National K9 Veterans Day

Dogs have been used for warfare since ancient times and continue to remain an important part of military tradition. They are given a variety of different jobs in the military, including aiding in patrols, search and rescue operations, tracking, and even explosive detection. They are also faithful companions to their handlers. It’s no wonder that these dogs are often rewarded with their own medals and awards, with memorial services, and with retirement ceremonies. There’s even a holiday that commemorates these dogs’ service, and this holiday is called National K9 Veterans Day, celebrated on March 13th annually.

The History Of Military Dogs

Even though we were unable to uncover the entire history of National K9 Veterans Day, we were able to uncover the history of dogs in the military. Dogs have been used in warfare since the dawn of time, and some scientists even credit them with contributing to the extinction of Neanderthals by Homo sapiens. War dogs were used by the Alans, Britons, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Baganda, Slavs, and even the Romans. So needless to say, they’ve been important working dogs for many an army.

The United States began officially training and using dogs during World War II. This is when they established the War Dog Program on March 13th, 1942. This program, also known as the K9 Corps, was the first time the U.S. Army began using dogs for operations. It’s the establishment of this program that this holiday falls on March 13th.

Dogs who are used by the military are known as Military Working Dogs, often shortened to MWDs. During the Vietnam War, approximately 5,000 MWDs were used by the U.S., and about 2,700 of them were left in that country after the war. Of those dogs, about 1,600 were euthanized. They were often viewed as surplus equipment, so they weren’t given much thought.

Fortunately, on September 27, 2000, that all changed when Representative Roscoe Bartlett introduced a bill to help MWDs. In November 2000, it was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton. This law required all MWDs deemed suitable for adoption to be placed after retirement from service. In 2015, the Military Dog Retirement Bill was passed. This bill changed the status of MWDs from surplus equipment to working dogs. In 2001, approximately 3,000 Military Working Dogs were in service by the military, U.S. Customs, and Federal Law Enforcement.

Observing National K9 Veterans Day

One of the ways that this holiday is observed is by adopting MWDs and welcoming them into your home. However, that’s not always possible, so instead, you can spoil your own dog with a treat or donate money to the various organizations tasked with placing military dogs. And while you’re celebrating this holiday, don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalK9VeteransDay on your social media accounts to spread the word about this holiday.

When is it?
This year (2024)
March 13 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
March 13 Thursday
Last year (2023)
March 13 Monday