As we head into of Memorial Day Weekend, we at American Humane encourage you to reflect with gratitude, not only upon the service of our soldiers, sailors, marines and air force, but also the great contributions of our animal heroes who serve to protect our forces and our freedoms.
From Military Working Dogs used to search for wounded soldiers, sniff weapons or carry critical messages, to war horses used to carry supplies and weapons, these valiant animals perform life-saving and life-sustaining functions without which our Armed Forces might not have prevailed in many of their successful campaigns.
There was even a hero dog, a Boston Bull Terrier named Stubby, whose life-saving role of warning soldiers of gas attacks was so important that President Woodrow Wilson awarded him the title of sergeant.
Of the 60 million soldiers who fought in World War I, more than nine million were killed. Some 100,000 of those who lost their lives were American. Animals who played a critical role like never before also saw staggering losses of life. Sadly, at least eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys perished during the war. They died not only from ammunition and shellfire, but also because of appalling conditions, exhaustion and illness.
It was during this time that the U.S. Secretary of War asked American Humane “to undertake the work of doing for Army animals what the American Red Cross is doing for soldiers.” So American Humane got to work and created the American Red Star Animal Relief to rescue wounded horses on the battlefields. American Humane sent medical supplies, bandages and ambulances to the front lines to care for the injured horses — an estimated 68,000 per month.
Today, American Humane remains committed to helping America’s veterans and recognizing their heroic contributions to our country – both on and off the battlefield. We continue our legacy of being first to serve with the U.S. military through our Pups4Patriots™ program, which rescues qualified dogs and trains them to provide assistance to veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war, Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. This program literally saves lives at both ends of the leash.
We also strive to protect America’s hard-working military dogs. After years of being classified as “equipment”, with thousands of military dogs being disposed of or left overseas, American Humane worked with Congress to require that Military Working Dogs be brought back to U.S. soil upon retirement and that their handlers and their families be given first rights of adoption. Unfortunately, these canine veterans are still sometimes separated from their human counterparts who cared for and fought alongside them on the battlefield. American Humane is committed to reuniting these retired hero dogs with their former handlers.
American Humane continues to build on its 100 years of work with the U.S. military through these life-changing, life-saving programs. America’s two and four-legged veterans served us, and now we are proud to serve them.
Please join us this Memorial Day to commemorate all of our military heroes — both two and four-legged — for their service and sacrifice.