Military working dogs have been used as partners with U.S. troops deployed overseas since World War I. Working alongside their handlers, they have been trained for difficult assignments as scouts, trackers, sentries, and in the detection of mines, booby-traps, tunnels, water locations, and used to help locate hostile forces. Their service spans deployments to both World Wars, to Korea and Vietnam, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
All branches of our military use Military Patrol Dogs, and today there are as many as 3000 dogs guarding and protecting our military personnel, working with them as partners, and serving with courage and loyalty on air bases, military compounds, ammunition depots, military check points, and leading patrols or clearing dangerous minefields.
In Afghanistan, there are nearly 700 Military Service Dogs in harm’s way, fighting with and protecting our soldiers. These dogs do it all, from guarding facilities to tracking an enemy to bomb and combat defense.
The canine force serving in the Middle East face an additional enemy: a vicious climate and especially rugged terrain. The climate is a challenge in itself, with normal temperatures often in excess of 130 degrees. Rocks and searing-hot sand torture their paws. Blowing sand stings their eyes. Yet they go on, because one of their special characteristics is their unwavering loyalty to their handlers.
Operation Military Care K-9 was started in 2002, sending care packages to working U.S. Military Dogs and their handlers. It began by sending essential items to protect them in these harshest weather conditions: Doogles to protect their eyes from sandstorms, cooling vests to give some comfort in the high temperatures and protect against heat stroke, dog boots to protect their paws from the heat and injuries common in the rugged terrain they operate in.
The non-profit organization The United States War Dog Association has been integral in sending care packages to these heroic dogs. To send specific items, visit their website for the full list of approved donation items and to verify shipping details.
Some of the items needed include K-9 Cooling Mats, K-9 Nail Clippers, Brushes and Combs, Kongs and other heavy-duty chew toys, Doggles, Collapsible Nylon Dog Water Bowls, Dog Shampoo, K-9 Salves for paws and noses, K-9 toothpaste and brushes, and dog treats (made in the U.S.A. only.)
There are several ways to get involved:
You can put your own package together for mailing to a military working dog. You must email US War Dog Association with your name, address and phone number (for their records only.) When your package is ready to ship, notify them again and they will respond with a name and address for a Military Working Dog Team that is deployed and will be the recipient of your package. That package should include your contact information, and may also include a letter or note for the Dog Team. Consider a few items for the handlers, too – things like Chap Stick, sun block, writing materials, chewing gum and beef jerky will be very much appreciated.
If you prefer, you can make a monetary donation, allowing the organization to purchase the needed items, or even make a donation and specify items you would like to have included in the care package, which would then be sent in your name.
These military dogs serve and protect our soldiers in active war zones and extreme conditions. It’s an honor to be able to thank them by providing the gear they need to be better protected and more comfortable while they do their important work.