On Veterans Day I want to give a special salute to all the military K9 teams that have served our country, and especially recognize those who are on the battlefield right now keeping us, and our military sons and daughters, safe from harm and saving lives.
Two months ago while traveling to a pet industry trade show I was walking through an airport when I saw a young soldier and his German Shepherd Dog waiting for a flight. I stopped and talked with him for 10 minutes and learned that they had completed training and were in the process of being deployed to Afghanistan.
Many times since then I have thought about that tall, friendly young man in his late 20s, who reminded me of my two sons, Mike and Rob. When I see a news report or hear about the war, I think of him and his beautiful GSD, trudging along a dusty, desolate road, facing down terrible danger, risking their lives for us.
I wonder if many people around the country understand how important these brave handlers and their K9s are to protecting our troops?
According to a report last month in Wired magazine, the U.S. has spent nearly $19 billion in the past six years on technology to detect roadside and other bombs, but the leader of the Pentagon’s task force to defuse improvised bombs, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, says nothing they have developed can match the effectiveness of a trained K9 team and a dog’s incredible nose.
The success rate for finding bombs with high tech detectors is 50 percent, but a highly trained dog team is 80 percent successful, according to Lt. Gen. Oates.
“The majority of IEDs are still found by well-trained soldiers in partnership with their host-nation forces and using a dog,’’ the general told The Washington Times.
We owe all our veterans and K9 teams a debt we can never truly repay, but we can honor them today and every day.
In my next post of Editor Unleashed I will share with you a special evening I enjoyed recently, watching amazing police and Marine K9 teams, and tell you about a new award being created by DOG FANCY to honor military, police and search-and-rescue K9 teams.