K9 Veterans Day: Celebrating Miami’s Hometown Heroes
Everywhere we turn we see working K9 unit helping Miami stay safe, which is why we are celebrating K9 Veterans Day on March 13th! This special day honors the 30,000 canine police officers who have served our country in various military missions locally or around the world. Joseph Wright, a retired military working dog trainer, dedicated March 13th to honor these special pups as the date chosen is the birthday of the US Army K9 Corps.
K9 Veterans in Miami
Many of us have seen police officers with a German Shepherd close by their sides patrolling the airport, or a picture on the news of a military officer with their trusting dog protecting the front lines of war. These working dogs, referred to as the K9 unit, are considered police officers and a crucial part of everyday Law Enforcement. Their senses have been trained to protect, unveil lethal objects or find missing persons, but what affect does this dog defense system have on you and the citizens of Miami?
K9-trained dogs and handlers are located in places such as Miami International Airport, the Port of Miami and police departments, detecting illegal substances or potential threats. Hospitals and Senior homes in the greater South Florida area use the K9 for protection or retired service dogs for companions to patients. Even the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department established a K9 unit in 1995. The K9 unit is called to action upon request in the field, but also used in educational and interactive presentations for the students. In addition, Miami is home to some of the best K9 training centers in the United States that provide services to law enforcement agencies, private corporations, schools, families and business professionals. Although this program may be under the radar and looked over, these wonderful dogs are used in major everyday operations.
History of the K9 Program
How did the K9 program even begin? In 1941, as men and women were being drafted shortly after Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the second World War, dogs were also trained as sentries or message carriers to help in our line of defense. The idea was influenced by the Europeans who had been using dogs as stand-in soldiers for years. By 1942 a Dogs for Defense division was born by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to train dogs for military use, which eventually began the K9 unit. Then, working dogs could sniff out landmines, bombs, corpses and survivors that a human soldier could not detect. Now, the K9 units can detect a variety of narcotics, explosives, criminal evidence and missing persons. These dogs are not only utilized by the police force and military, but also used in schools, airports and hospitals.
German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois: Your K9 Companions
The two main breeds used for K9 police officers, which are the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, both originating from Europe. These loyal breeds make wonderful working and family dog, while having the agile and large body to investigate and protect. The career lifespan of these canine officers are typically 7 – 10 years depending on overall health and performance. Most teams of human handler and dog retire together, while others are put up for adoption.
Interested in owning a working dog of your own? Check out a few facts on the breeds:
- 2nd most popular dog breed
- Personality – Confident, courageous, smart and obedient
- Hair Care – This breed has a double layer of hair, one short and one long. The thick coat needs constant grooming.
- Energy Level – High energy. They were born to work and demand mental & physical exercise.
- Personality – Confident, hard working, smart & steadfastly loyal
- Hair Care – This breed has a short, thick coat that needs regular grooming
- Energy Level – High energy & demands plenty of physical attention
We’re happy to recognize the four-legged friends on K9 Veterans Day who have saved many lives and will continue to do so as long as this program stays alive!
If you are interested in K9 training programs or purchasing a K9 breed, see the following websites for further information on local Miami centers providing high quality services. Also, if you would like to make a donation to a K9 academy or department contact the Miami Dade Police Department.
Celebrate K9 Veterans Day every day: the next time you see a K9 unit on duty pay your gratitude because you never know where you will need them next.