Animal Celebration Days: National K9 Veterans’ Day (March 13th)


U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall


The canine heroes among us deserve an applause, and that is part of what National K9 Veterans’ Day seeks to achieve. Across the nation, state legislators have wanted to recognize the canines who have served and given their lives in the military. The issue has been near and dear to the American Kennel Club, and they even formed a civilian organization that is known as Dogs for Defense that they first started in 1942. What was the goal? They wanted to train guards dogs for the supply depots along the coasts.

Official Birthday of the K9 Corps

On March 13, 1942, we first started using these friendly canines to combat Hitler, the nazis and the terrifying Japanese soldiers. In 2009, Joseph White, a retired dog handler of the armed forces, said that he wanted to proclaim this day as K9 Veterans’ Day. You’ve heard of regular veterans’ day, and now we are honoring the paws and furry companions who have also helped us fight in the armed forces. However, this holiday does not only honor those in the military, it honors service animals across many industries, including:

  • Police
  • Customs
  • Border Patrol
  • Therapy

Service Canines Who Protect and Serve the Homeland

Outside of eating the gone-astray meatloaf that would otherwise go to waste, if your dog Fluffy put himself in harm’s way for your country and makes a real sacrifice, then either salute him or give him a treat on this day. He deserves as much recognition as his human counterparts who have served and fought for the service.

Honoring Fido: Man’s Best Friend

Life in the army is ruff! Since WWII, the Coast Guard used these animals to guard the beaches. Joe White, a selfless visionary for animal’s rights in the armed forces, has inspired dog lovers around the world to give their animals the much needed appreciation that they deserve. Never let Joe’s mission die, and with the right dedication, we can make this a national holiday.

Not Just About Canines Anymore!

You might be saying, what if I’m a cat lover, or what if I love pigeons? Well, this holiday is all about equal rights. While cats don’t normally serve in combat—I imagine they’d be the masterminds and planners—this holiday also honors military mules, carrier pigeons and service dogs. Speaking of service animals, did you know that the police in China do not use dogs for sniffing out bombs and drugs? They actually use geese. True story! In fact, believe it or not, these hardcore gaggles of geese have even been used for night watch patrols because they honk when trouble is afoot. I wonder if National K9 Veterans’ Day would include geese if that ever caught on in America. Police would be all like, “Here’s a million dollar jewel, goose! Guard it with your life!” Now you might be thinking that a dog is a scarier adversary, but if you have ever ticked off an angry mother goose (I’ve done it 11 times!), then you know that they will have you in the fetal position, crying for your mother before you know it and they will humiliate you while doing it: Geese are scary. Never forget that, and you’ll live a long and happy life.

The Unsung Veteran

When we think of people who serve our country, we rarely think of the veteran that is not human. Through National K9 Veterans’ Day, we will soon come to honor the valiant and heroic service dogs and other armed forces animals who have given their life for their country. They are loyal, loving and devoted family pets that protect their loved ones and make the ultimate sacrifice, but many times, because they are animals, they go unnoticed.

What Do Canines Get Used For?

Toward the end of World War II, almost 10,000 service dogs were trained for seeking out land mines, traps, tunnels and trip wires. Considering that canines have extra senses that help them to spot death traps, these are the types of service professionals that you want on your side in those situations. If something is going to make a big boom, you want to know about it before your foot touches the land mine. These invaluable animals have served their purpose and saved the lives of our soldiers, which is why we want to add them to our list of serving veterans.

Considering that the Japanese could never ambush or attack a patrol of canines, they were highly successful in saving the lives of countless US soldiers. Since March 13, 1942, we have had more than 30,000 canines serve our country, and many who have died. They have mostly gone unnoticed compared to the humans, but we can make a difference by starting to recognize and honor National K9 Veterans’ Day.

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