The Lafayette Times

This Day in History – March 13th

Maire Birdwell, Design Editor

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On this day in 1942, the U.S. Army started training dogs for the War Dog Program or “K-9 Corps.”

During WW1, over a million dogs served by carrying messages to soldiers and generals and providing comfort for the soldiers during battle. A famous dog by the name of Rin Tin Tin was found as a puppy in France in 1918 and taken to the United States, where he was featured in the 1922 movie, “The Man from Hell’s River.” Rin Tin Tin made the little-known German Shepherd breed famous across North America.

The practice of training dogs became forgotten after World War I. When WWII came, a group by the name of Dogs for Defense started a movement to mobilize dog owners to donate healthy and capable animals to the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army. Dogs began to be trained again in 1942 for the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.

The K-9 corps accepted 30 types of dog breeds at first but later, the breed list was narrowed to 7: German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malumutes, and Eskimo dogs. The dogs were trained for 8-12 weeks, then were put through specialized programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs, or mine-detection dogs. The main type of dog for combat use was a scout dog. Scout dogs proved especially essential for alerting soldiers of the approach of the enemy and preventing surprise attacks.

The top canine hero of WWII was a German Shepard named Chips, who served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his owners and attacked an enemy machine gun in Italy. Chip’s attack forced the entire crew to surrender. The wounded German Shepard was awarded with the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and the Purple Heart, all of which were later revoked due to an Army policy preventing official commendation of animals.

About the Writer
Maire Birdwell, Design Editor
Maire Birdwell is a freshman at Lafayette and she is happy to say that she is the Design Editor.  She contributes to Lafayette by marching with our outstanding band, helping others, and giving our school a good atmosphere. Her whole life is surrounded by music since her parents are both music professors, and listening to...
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This Day in History – March 13th