Although you might immediately think of the men and women in uniform when you hear about veterans, humans are not the only type of soldiers. Since 1942, the United States military has had an official unit for dogs that become K9 veterans. Every year on March 13th, the U.S. celebrates K9 Veterans Day to honor and commemorate the service and sacrifices of military pooches and their handlers. Here are some facts to know.
Dogs have an important role to play in keeping the U.S. safe. For this reason, the military has around 1,600 active-duty working dogs. When these canines are not on the frontlines, their handlers oversee play and exercise, arrange visits to a vet and manage all other normal dog care needs.
Although the U.S. military officially recognizes 1942 as the year that K9s became part of the army, K9 veterans have served in every major American conflict since the Revolutionary War. In 1942, Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson authorized the induction of dogs into the war effort, thus making the U.S. Army K9 Corps official.
Until 2000, it was common for the U.S. military to euthanize working dogs at the end of their service, but mindsets have significantly changed over the years. Since the passage of Robby's Law in 2000, all are eligible for adoption after their service term ends. Current or former handlers adopt about 90 percent of these dogs.
Without a doubt, K9 veterans are a very special part of the U.S. military, and they deserve the best care possible whether they are on active duty or retired. Whether your pooch at home is a soldier or not, he or she does, too! Schedule an appointment with Pet Hospitals of Hawaii for an annual checkup today.