|The Forgotten Soldier: Fido|
|Many people do not know that more than 10-thousand dogs served in World War Two and four thousand in Vietnam. These specially trained dogs saved the lives of US servicemen by sniffing out the enemy, detecting trip wires, leading patrols and taking bullets meant for their human companions. Today, dogs are still trained in the military, some now serving with US peacekeepers in Kosovo, while others are trained for bomb detection or narcotics control and are loaned to federal agencies such as the State Department or Secret Service.
What many people also do not know is that after WW11, hundreds of these heroic dogs were placed in adoptive homes to live out their lives in peace -- a fitting retirement, until 1949 -- when these military canines were reclassified as “equipment.” In a story written by Washington Post reporter Phil McCombs, we learn that since 1949 the dogs who served our country had to be euthanized instead of adopted and this policy lasted for 50 years.
There is reason to rejoice, however. McCombs reported that a Republican congressman from Maryland, Roscoe G. Bartlett, succeeded in getting legislation passed that changes the Defense Department's policy in this matter and now, these Fidos will be able to find appropriate homes.
President Clinton recently signed the bill into law. The legislation addresses the main concern of the military and transfers liability to the new owners -- apparently the crucial sticking point in getting the change. (The concern centered on the fact these dogs were trained to be aggressive -- to protect and to attack when necessary).
FindFido.com lauds Congressman Bartlett, President Clinton and others who lobbied for the new bill, including Marine Capt. William W. Putney who helped deprogram and find homes for hundreds of military dogs before the 1949 law went into effect. Don't be surprised if you soon see a newly erected war memorial in your hometown -- one to the forgotten Fido who served faithfully and protected America's military men and women.