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National K9 Veteran's Day

March 13 is National K9 Veterans Day! ​​ ​This day is​ set aside to salute all our American veterans with four legs. Trained canines or K9 Corps have played a crucial role in our military for many years.

The American military did not use canines prior to Pearl Harbor. During ​the first World War,​ soldiers began noticing the European use of canines as message carriers and sentries. Dogs for Defense was the original organization that provided dogs to our military. Founder Arlene Erlanger saw the need and started training dogs with several breeders and with help from the American Kennel Club. By late 1942,​ the first Dogs for Defense were trained and ready for duty in North Africa. As time went ​ on Dogs for Defense couldn't keep up with the need for Military Dogs so the Remount Branch ​ (Service Installations Division)​ took over training the dogs.

There have been over 30,000 dogs in the military,​ to date. There were over 5,500 deployed during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. More recently,​ there have been more than 600 dogs deployed to Iraq​ and Afghanistan. Many have received medals of honor,​ and some have become quite well known!​

Next month,​ a new movie about one of the first famous military dogs, 'Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero'​ will be released in major theaters​. It is the true story of a stray dog that became very loyal to a young soldier back in 1917. He was the first canine to be ranked as Sargeant​ in the U.S. Army and was one of the most decorated dogs​ in America.

While most of us don't have military dogs as part of our family,​ take a moment today to remember all of the ​four legged soldiers that have ​served​ our country. ​If you would like to know more about local recognition for our K9 Veterans, please visit our website at page where you will find information on the K9 Veterans Memorial Foundation here in Gainesville. ​

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