Friday, July 15, 2016

Four military dogs receive inaugural K-9 Medal of Courage Award

A Czech German Shepherd who sniffed out improvised explosive devices while also coming under and surviving enemy fire in Afghanistan; an athletic black Labrador retriever who served four combat tours in Afghanistan where he detected explosives and provided emotional support for his human comrades; a brave Belgian Malinois who worked more than 50 combat missions, saving countless lives of U.S. troops; and a regal German Shepherd who safeguarded four-star Generals and political personnel, including the President of the United States, during their visits to troops overseas but who also lost a leg when a 120-pound bomb he detected exploded, have been chosen as recipients of the inaugural American Humane Lois Pope LIFE K-9 Medal of Courage.

The awards, presented at a Capitol Hill ceremony, are the nation's highest honor for military dogs for extraordinary valor and service to America. They were created under the aegis of the American Humane Association, which has worked with the U.S. military for 100 years, and internationally renowned philanthropist and veterans advocate Lois Pope. Nineteen members of Congress and more than 200 Congressional staffers attended the packed event.

The awards were conferred upon the courageous canines by some of the country's foremost military leaders, including General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.; First Sgt. Matt Eversmann (Ret.), the hero of Mogadishu whose story inspired the film "Black Hawk Down"; and USMC Col. Scott Campbell, Commanding Officer of the Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, VA.

"These remarkable dogs work side-by-side with the men and women of our Armed Forces, performing vitally important and life-saving work, while putting their own lives on the line for our country," said Mrs. Pope, who conceived and spearheaded the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated in Washington DC in October 2014.

Mrs. Pope, who is currently advocating for a national day of service to honor disabled veterans, added: "It is high time that their valiant sacrifices and contributions to our nation and our men and women in uniform are properly recognized at the highest levels."

"It is important to recognize and honor the remarkable accomplishments and valor of these courageous canines," said Rep. Gus Bilirakis, co-chair of the Congressional Humane Bond Caucus, which hosted the event. "By helping locate enemy positions, engage the enemy, and sniff out deadly IEDs and hidden weapons, military dogs have saved countless lives in the fight for freedom."

"Soldiers have been relying on these four-footed comrades-in-arms since the beginning of organized warfare and today military dogs are more important than ever in keeping our service men and women safe," said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert.

"At American Humane, which has been working with the U.S. military and military animals for 100 years, we feel it is time to recognize and honor the extraordinary feats and acts of devotion these heroic animals perform every day."


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