Military working dogs have long been a warrior’s best friend. Since World War I, dogs have been used in the military for various missions, including explosive detection, search and rescue, and security patrols.
Most recently, hundreds of IED detector dogs – primarily Labrador retrievers – have been deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to help Marine infantry units find explosives hidden by members of the Taliban.
Memorial Bracelets, a website created in 2001 to help raise funds for Sept. 11 victims through personalized bracelets and dog tags, has added the abbreviation “MWDH” next to the branch of service members killed in action as a way to pay tribute to military working dog handlers. The website also lists military working dogs killed in action to remember the dogs that have been killed while deployed, according to a news release.
“Not to take anything away from the sacrifice our soldiers who have been killed in action have made for this country, we thought it was also important to recognize the K-9s who have given their lives working to protect our fighting men and women from harm,” said Rob Tacy in a statement.
According to the release, 17 handlers and six K-9s have been killed during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“Military working dogs go into battle without hesitation alongside their human battle
buddies,” said Lisa Phillips, founder of the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization, in a statement.
“They put their lives on the line daily. It is heart warming that, with the help of Memorial Bracelets, everyone can now show these four-legged heroes our love and support, just as they have shown for our nation.”
Prisoner-of-war bracelets, with the name, rank and loss date of an individual service member, were commonly worn in the 1970s to remember American POWs in Vietnam.
“To keep the memory alive of those who have died at the hands of terrorists or fighting terrorism, we now also wear Memorial Bracelets,” states the website.
Since its launch, Memorial Bracelets has donated more than $150,000 to charities supporting families of Vietnam POWs/MIAs, Iraq and Afghanistan casualties, and victims of Sept. 11. The website donates $2 to charity from every bracelet or dog tag purchase.