March 13th recognizes National K9 Veterans Day and the dedicated K9 units who’ve served since World War II. 

A lot of things changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. We rationed oil, leather, and rubber. The military draft men into service. Women rolled up their sleeves and built war supplies.

And dogs were called to duty. During the first world war, the United States took notice of the European use of canines as sentries, message carriers, and several other functions.

A private citizen, Mrs. Alene Erlanger initiated a program called Dogs for Defense. Along with the American Kennel Club and a handful of breeders, the group aimed to train the dogs for military use.

By November of 1942, the military prepared the first Dogs for Defense for duty in North Africa. While at first, they were gun shy, they proved to be well trained.

As the war progressed, Dogs for Defense was unable to keep up with the demand, and the Remount Branch, Service Installations Divisions took over the training of the dogs.

Over the years, the military, police, and rescue have developed a variety of training methods for K9 units. Their training is tailored to meet the demands of the job, and each animal and handler carries out his or her duties to the fullest.

K9 service does not end with just serving in the military, now specialty trained dogs help our returning people service members as well. Coping with things like PTSD, or other veteran related issues can be dramatically helped by special service dogs.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalK9VeteransDay

Recognize a K9 veteran. Learn more about their service, history, and training. Attend a ceremony honoring the working dogs in military units and working dogs across the country.  Use #NationalK9VeteransDay to post on social media.


National K9 Veterans Day is celebrated on March 13th on the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps, which was formed in 1942.  Joseph White, a retired military working dog trainer, originated the idea for the day.

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