In a recent post about a brave and wounded Marine dog, one Lucca, I asked why it was that a British animal charity was giving Lucca a medal and not the USMC or the American Department of Defense. I’ve since learned that soon an American outfit will begin officially commemorating the bravery of working dogs in all of America’s military services.
Danique Masingill, a program manager with the American Humane Association in Washington, says the venerable animal welfare agency will begin awarding three medals for bravery annually to military dogs. The award is called the “Lois Pope Canine Medal of Courage,” named after one of the Humane Association’s benefactors. The awards will be presented in Washington to military dogs who’ve demonstrated bravery while serving overseas in combat theaters alongside U.S. military personnel.
“This provides validation for the dogs and the units they served,” Masingill said.
Of course the two-legged soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have served with military dogs, which included Petty Officer Masingill during her five years in the Navy, have always recognized the loyalty and bravery of the dogs they worked with. They can be quite voluble on the subject, as well they should be. The dogs provide a wide array of vital and sometimes dangerous services: bomb sniffing, drug detection, even tracking bad guys in war zones. They have undoubtedly saved lives in battle. But, Masingill says, while the DOD awards purple hearts to military dogs wounded in combat, it has not, to this point, awarded medals to dogs for their bravery. This new AHA program helps to fill this gap.
The AHA has also begun to work with DOD to help reunify military working dogs with their handlers after the dogs’ service is complete, and to provide military funerals for dog veterans when they go on. To learn more of these worthwhile efforts, contact Masingill at AHA’s Washington offices at 202/677-4224 XT 1115.