Military Working Dogs: Partners not Pets - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Military Working Dogs: Partners not Pets

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Maureen Wurtz

OMAHA (KPTM)- Thousands of dogs have served our country since WWII.

In fact, about 2,700 are serving overseas.

Four feet, packing a fight that would make anyone think twice. "If there's a dog there, it's going to make you think a little more," said Sgt. Raymond McMahon.

It's a case where the bark is just as bad as the bite. "We have dogs out deployed in locations right now throughout the world," said McMahon.

The United States has been using military working dogs since WWII. "Yes, they save lives, they literally save lives," said McMahon.

Tsgt. Jesse Hall and his dog Ada just got back after serving five months in Afghanistan. "I can only attribute that to her. Her doing her job got me back," said Hall.

The two have trained and served side by side for a year.

"Everybody has dogs back home, and I get to bring one with me," said Hall. "Be my best friend the whole time while I'm there."

According to officials, military working dogs save, on average, 150 lives each.

"I've seen dogs that will find a pressure plate, and maybe they're not in the front, but three other soldiers have walked over it and the dog is the one that found it," said Hall.

Each dog outranks its handler and also is awarded the same medals. "If they get hurt, I do the exact same steps and everybody does the exact same steps that would do for a regular soldier that got hurt," said Hall.

Hall said the dogs aren't regular soldiers, they're experts in patrol and detection. "We provide a capability to commanders that most people can't even do."

In 2000, Congress passed a law allowing Military working dogs to be adopted.  Currently, if the dogs aren't adopted, there's no back up plan.  The military views dogs as equipment, so when their service is done the dogs are left without benefits or care.

"There are just so many capabilities that the dog brings to the fight that are just invaluable," said Hall.

Four dog tags hang at Offutt representing the dogs that have died while serving since 9/11. The most dogs that have died during a war

Officials believe the most dogs that have died in a war was during the Vietnam War.

"That bond does form, and once that bond is there, it's hard to break," said McMahon.

It's a bond unlike any other.

"You can see how close they are, the dog didn't want to leave his side," said McMahon.

A four footed friend, not just a pet, but also a partner-and a hero.

There is a bill in Congress to change military working dogs from being viewed as equipment to K-9 members of the military.

It's scheduled to be introduced in 2014, so far it has about 20 cosponsors.

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