Fox News - The first national monument to pay tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in just two months. The U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor ever dog that has served in combat since World War II.
Some cities, cemeteries, and military bases across the country already have such memorials. But none has been elevated to national monument level.
In 2000, John Burnam, a 65-year-old veteran military dog handler, wrote a book called "Dog Tags of Courage." A year later, he got an email from a reader wondering why there were no national monuments to the dogs of war.
In 2004, Burnam and two other dog handler veterans pursued the idea in earnest, forming the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. But it took two more years, until he met Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., that the monument project started to take shape.
In 2007, Jones introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.
The money for the monument came slowly. Burnam made one of many fundraising pitches on the reality TV show "Who Let the Dogs Out," featuring Tillman, the skateboarding bulldog. The president of Natural Balance Pet Foods attended the show taping and volunteered to pitch in more than $1 million.
"Don't do a thing. Natural Balance and Petco will take care of it," Joey Herrick said. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky bark treat sold by Petco. Maddie's Fund, a family-funded pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.
The public will get a sneak peak of the monument at the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on January 1, when a floral replica will be used as Natural Balance's float. Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch will ride on it.
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