When you think about the people defending our country, it’s easy to envision a wide variety of individuals coming together under their respective branches of the military, fighting to keep us safe. But it takes more than just human beings, it also often takes man’s best friend. National K9 Veterans Day is an annual tradition aiming to celebrate the sacrifices and hard work that dogs provide to the American Armed Forces. Learn more about National K9 Veterans Day 2023 and how you can give back to our furry heroes.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Service Dogs for Veterans
When is National K9 Veterans Day?
National K9 Veterans Day is celebrated every year on March 13th. This day shows appreciation to our furriest heroes for their service and sacrifice while defending the United States of America.
Brave K9s are a crucial part of many operations throughout history, from detecting explosives to providing comfort to soldiers, and much more. Military K9 units have been used in a variety of wars and conflicts, including World War I and II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror.
These dogs undergo extensive training and are capable of performing an array of duties, such as tracking down enemies, sniffing out hidden explosives, and helping with search and rescue missions. Some dogs also assist law enforcement agencies.
Every March, National K9 Veterans Day is a reminder to honor these loyal dogs for their invaluable contributions to the defense of America. You don’t have to look far to see a variety of organizations hosting events and ceremonies to mark the occasion.
Military K9 Charities to Remember
There are many ways to pay tribute to military k9s, but most importantly, there are several ways to give back. Some organizations help dogs, others help Veterans, while others still help both. Check out some of the top charities involving canines in the military community:
K9s for Warriors
One of the top charities to remember this year is K9s for Warriors. Not only do they perform amazing work pairing up Veterans who suffer from mental health issues, like PTSD, with dogs, but the canines they connect with are also being given a second chance in most cases. K9 for Warriors helps provide dogs a new lease on life by becoming service animals after rescuing them from high-kill shelters.
Warrior Dog Foundation
Founder and U.S. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland is a former Naval Special Warfare Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC) Trainer and is helping military k9s after a career working with these dogs to defend the United States. The Warrior Dog Foundation provides rehabilitation for MWDs, CWDs, and LEO K9s with its expert staffing, state-of-the-art kennel facility, and proven methods to help canines become retrained for living in a civilian environment.
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Paws and Stripes
The people at Paws and Stripes are helping both military K9s and Veterans. If you are a Veteran suffering from PTSD or any traumatic brain injury, you can enjoy a variety of free programs aimed at improving your mental health. This includes mental health support and service dog training/education. The dogs are rescued from shelters and both Veterans and canines receive a satisfying relationship built on second chances.
Save-A-Vet is a non-profit that rescues dogs that have served in either the military or law enforcement. The dogs they save are scheduled to be euthanized. In addition, other service animals are also rescued through the program and find loving homes to help the K9s enjoy their retirement. Furthermore, the program aims to provide housing and assistance for disabled Veterans who assist the dogs from the organization.
U.S. War Dogs Association
The U.S. War Dogs Association was created by former canine handlers to spread the word about the role dogs play in war. Increasing public awareness about military K9s is important to help them receive a better life after service. Besides funding the Free Rx Prescription Drug Program for Retired Military Working Dogs, the group also creates memorials to honor dogs, raise awareness, and even help find retired dogs new homes.
National K9 Veterans Day Appreciates Our Four-Legged Heroes
Each year, we come together to remember the dogs serving in any number of ways to keep our country safe both domestically and abroad. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, just like with their human counterparts, and the work and skill they provide deserve recognition.
The reality of war is bleak and the skills that are needed often help to take the lives of enemies while preserving the lives of Americans. National K9 Veterans Day remembers this sentiment because dogs help our troops execute missions and remain safe on the battlefield. It’s only appropriate that we remember and honor them for all that they have done and continue to do for us.
Read Next: K9 Veterans Day: Celebrating the Service of Man’s Best Friend