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By Debbie Gregory.

The United States K9 Corps were created on March 13, 1942, and this has been designated as National K-9 Veterans Day. Although it is an unofficial holiday, most dog lovers don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate “man’s best friend.”

Military K9s, Border Patrol K9s, Customs K9s, Police K9s, Secret Service K9s, Airport Service K9s and FBI K9s work to aid and protect us.  They preform important tasks and dangerous tasks such as search, rescue, explosives detection, scouting, patrolling and subduing suspects.

Some of the most relied upon breeds that perform this work include German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labradors.

Today’s military dogs are valued.  They are important members of their military units and even have their own retirement ceremonies, awards and medals and memorial services.  Often they are adopted by a member of the team.

We salute non-profit American Humane’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs which helps reunite retired military dogs with their former handlers, provides veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress, PTS with lifesaving service dogs, arranges free veterinary care for retired four-legged service members, and drives legislation that supports military dogs and their human counterparts.

A few extraordinary K-9s include:

  • Jag, a Labrador Retriever who retired in 2013 and served with the U.S. Army for seven years. Jag was adopted by battle buddy Sgt. Dennis Dow.
  • Jig, another Labrador Retriever who served with the U.S. Marine Corps for five years as an IED Detection Dog until he was medically retired do to an oral melanoma.
  • Kyria, a Dutch Shepard, who worked at Lackland AFB before joining the Albuquerque Police Department as an explosive detection canine.
  • Nico, a German Shepherd who served with the U.S. Navy Seals. Nico was eventually reunited with his handler.
  • Summer, a Labrador Retriever who served with the U.S. Marine Corps for five years and now serves with the TSA K-9 team for the D.C. Amtrak police.
  • Taker, a Labrador Retriever who retired in 2012 and served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an IED Detection Dog. Taker was adopted by battle buddy Sgt. Kevin Zuniga.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the canines who are placed in harm’s way to protect our servicemembers and first responders.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,