K9 Veteran’s Day: A Celebration of Service and Companionship

Each year, March 13 is a very special day for all K9 handlers, both military and police, as it recognizes the hard work that their K9s have done throughout the years. In honor of all of the K9s that have served, K9 Veteran’s Day was created by Joe White, of Jacksonville, Fla., and is observed annually on March 13.

On this day, in 1942, the U.S. K9 Corps were created. Since that time, K9s have served in nearly every branch of service of the military, federal and police operations as they work to protect America and her citizens. A tremendous asset to any unit, working K9s allow their human counterparts a significant edge in their ability to save lives, detect and avoid threats, and keep the streets, communities and jurisdictions in which they serve safe from harm.

K9s are a vital and necessary part of military and law enforcement operations and these working dogs are more than just partners on duty, they are companions, friends and lifesavers. The connection between a K9 and their handler is something of great wonder. It’s as if they can read each other’s minds. If you have had the opportunity to witness any interaction between a handler and their dog, surely you will agree. The effort and dedication that they have put in to become a true team is remarkable — as is the way they watch out for one another.

K9s undergo many hours of training. Their training rivals that of their handlers as it is thorough, long and important to their success. It requires an investment of time and trust between the K9 and their handler to build the sort of relationship that allows them both to know the abilities and limits of the other, to acknowledge the mutual commitment to triumph in their missions, and to ensure that, at the end of the day, they both return safely home.

Some dogs are trained in just one specialty, while others are certified in multiple areas, dependent upon the needs of the agency in which they serve. Their functions range from search and rescue, to explosives and narcotics detection, tracking and trailing, and patrol. Training happens daily — even when the handler is off-duty, to ensure that both the officer’s and the K9’s skills remain sharp and that they are both ready to in an instant perform their sworn duty.

As they are recognized for their hard work and many successes, it is our desire to know that each K9’s abilities and investment are protected. It is for this reason that Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. was founded in 2009. Our mission is to provide bullet- and stab-protective vests to dogs of Law Enforcement and related agencies throughout the U.S. As a 501c(3) non-profit, through the assistance of corporate and general donations, we are able to provide this protection to eligible K9s, at no cost to the department.

The K9s that serve and have served deserve the honor and respect of our nation, as they have performed duties that humans are unable to, due to their keen senses and agility. They have sacrificed their lives so that their human counterparts could live. They have paid the ultimate price at home and abroad. These hard working K9s are truly deserving of this recognition, so on this and all K9 Veteran’s Days, we thank them for their service, their dedication and their efforts to make a difference in the lives of every resident of our great nation each and every day.

Author: Kriscel Estrella, Board Member, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Photo Credit: Maili Godwin, Boris & Company

Photo Caption: Corporal Jesse Conyngham and his K9 partner, Gaston, of the Laurel, Md., Police Department

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