Returning War Dogs To Civilian Life

When World War II hostilities ended, the Quartermaster Corps put into operation a well-conceived plan for return of war dogs to their civilian owners. No dog it was announced, would be considered ready for release by the Army until it had undergone a complete "demilitarizing" process.

When a dog was considered surplus to Army needs it was immediately transferred to a reprocessing section for rehabilitation to civilian life. Its past record was carefully studied for such a study often revealed how best to approach it, Handlers made a point of convincing the dog that every human being is a friend. If he was inclined to romp, they played with him. If he were suspicious they talked to him gently. A dog that is not under control is difficult to handle. For this reason, every time a dog was taken from his kennel during the demilitarizing process he was made to "heel" properly and respond to commands to "sit" to "down" and to "stay". Before a dog was returned he was thoroughly grounded in this type of obedience training.

An accurate record was kept of the daily progress of each dog and when reaction was favorable over a period of time he was subjected to different tests. While working in a group of other dogs for example, he might be subjected to gunfire, have people ride around him on bicycles or be placed in an area where there was a great deal of noise. Passing such tests as these indicated a readiness for return to civilian life.

More freedom was given the dog as each test was passed successfully. He was permitted to run and frolic at the end of a 30 foot exercise leash and subjected to handling by men in civilian clothes. As one of the final tests, an element of surprise was introduced. The dog was walked on leash by a secluded building, As he passed the building an aggravator jumped at him from behind, waving a sack and shouting. If the dog showed no unusual alarm and readily tried to make friends with the aggravator it was felt that he had earned the right to return to civilian life. Before being shipped, every canine was given a final check by a veterinary officer.

Under the policy through which dogs were secured for the Army, they were first offered to their original owners. If the original owner indicated that he wanted the dog, the animal was shipped at Government expense. If the owner did not ask for return of the dog, it was offered for sale. Dogs for Defense conducted investigations to assure that prospective purchasers could provide the ex-war dogs with proper homes.

While the Army could not absolutely guarantee the future behavior of any returned dog nor assume any responsibility once it had left Army jurisdiction there were very few complaints as to the behavior of the 3,000 odd dogs discharged from the service. By early 1947, the return of all borrowed dogs had been completed.

The following excerpts from unsolicited letters received by The Quartermaster General are reassuring as to the success of rehabilitation:

"DOLF arrived yesterday afternoon in excellent condition and survived the long trip remarkably well. He knew each and all of us immediately and within a very short time had taken up where he left off two years ago. He is beautifully trained and his behavior is remarkable. He had not in the least forgotten many of the things we had taught him." Submitted by John B. Osborn, New York.

"Thank you for your good care and training of our dog MIKE. He knew all of us and still remembers the tricks he knew before he entered the service, My son, Edward, an Army officer, and all of us are proud of his honorable discharge and his deportment." - Submitted by Mrs, Edward Jo Conally, Utah.

"I want to thank you for the wonderful dog you returned to use SMARTY is a perfect example of health and alertness and she was so eager to show us her obedience commands that we understood them even before the instructions arrived two days late. It was a genuine sacrifice for Herbie to donate his dog to the armed forces, but now he is receiving his reward by receiving a dog more beautiful and better trained than he ever thought possible." - Submitted by Mrs, Herbert E. Allen, Washington.

"QUEENE seems to be exceedingly happy to be home. She certainly shows the effects of wonderful care and splendid training, and proudly, exhibits her show-off traits. Our son (in the submarine service) is very proud of QUEENE having been in the Service." - Submitted by Mrs. C. A. Pryor, California.

"At 6:45 on October 1955 our German Shepherd DANNIE passed away due to old age. DANNIE served in the K-9 Corps from June 1943 until April 1945, when he was honorably discharged. We could write a story about the faithful, loving service DANNIE has given our home and children since he came home to use It is almost like losing a child. He was bright and on guard until the very last although partially paralyzed for some time. He lay watching my daughter's bedroom window as he went into his last sleep humming as though to comfort us. His master, Captain Carl Johnson Air Force is now stationed in Arizona (my three sons are all officers). Carl and DANNIE enlisted about the same time because DANNIE was lonesome for his master.

"We can't thank the K-9 Corps enough for their good care of DANNIE and the valuable training they gave him."

Submitted by Mrs. Henry Johnson, Cardiff, R#3, Lafayette, Now York,

Army Dog Association

In view of the difficulty experienced in World War II in procuring suitable dogs for the military service and in order to insure an adequate supply of superior dogs of the German Shepherd breed the Army Dog Association, Inc. was organized. It was composed of leading breeders and fanciers of the breed who agreed to accept breeding stock from the Government and arrange for its transfer to responsible individuals or agents interested in breeding dogs for our purposes.

The individual or agent selected would agree to purchase the dog from the Army Dog Association for the sum of $1.00, subject to such rules and regulations as might be prescribed by that organization. The Government would reserve the right to select from each of the first three litters of the parent bitches and from each of the first three litter of each bitch produced by any of the parent bitches or their female offspring, one male puppy- between the ages of 1 year and 15 months.

To implement this plan, a recognized authority on German Shepherds, Sergeant William Hankinson, then a member of our Armed Forces was ordered to proceed to the European Theatre in the fall of 1945 to inspect and purchase foundation breeding stock, since there was a dearth of outstanding stock in this country. As a result of his trip, the United States Army imported eight German Shepherds, which included seven bitches and one dog. They were turned over to the Army Dog Association to be used in the breeding program as outlined above. In the ensuing five years, dog requirements were particularly non-existent. Furthermore, the Quartermaster Corps had, during that time lost all of its training installations and the responsibility for training. Consequently, there was no need to call on the agents sponsored by the Army Dog Association for military replacements or requirements. Since there was no immediate demand and no assurance as to whether the Government would again be in the market, the program bogged down, agents became understandingly disinterested, and the Army Dog Association was eventually dissolved.

Transfer of Training Responsibility

With the discontinuance of the Quartermaster Remount Depot System in 1948 the training responsibility was transferred from the Quartermaster Corps to the Army Field Forces and the one remaining dog training center, located at Front Royal, Virginia, was relocated at Fort Riley, Kansas. However, the Quartermaster Corps retained the mission of dog procurement. From that time until the Korean emergency developed, very little was accomplished relative to dog training except in Europe where, since the early days of occupation many dogs had been utilized for guarding supply points and aircraft and for other types of security. Responsibility for training in Europe was, by direction of the Commanding General, European Forces, continued under the jurisdiction of the Quartermaster Corps. Late in 1951 the task of dog training in CONUS was again transferred - this time to the Military Police Corps, and early in 1952 the training center was moved from Fort Riley, Kansas to Camp Carson, Colorado, later designated Fort Carson.

Because of the difficulties experienced in fully coordinating the programming, procurement, processing, conditioning, training and issue of war dogs, a Staff Study pertaining to possible return of responsibility for war dog training to the Quartermaster Corps was submitted to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 on 28 August 1953. The study included a recommendation that the Office of The Quartermaster General be charged with war dog training for the Department of the Army and that a War Dog Reception and Training Center be activated as a Class II installation at Fort Lee, Virginia; concurrent with its opening, the Amy Dog Training Center at Fort Carson, Colorado, would be phased out, A directive dated may 1954 was received stating that - "The Dog Training Center will remain a Class I Activity at Fort Carson - The Chief, Army Field Forces will retain and discharge the responsibility for supervision of war dog training - Under provisions of AR 880-5 The Quartermaster General will continue to be charged with the responsibility for procurement of dogs." Thus the responsibility for training passed from the jurisdiction of the Military Police Corps to the Chief, Army Field Forces, Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Post-World War II Dog Program

The World War II method of acquiring dogs on a loan basis from patriotic citizens, having proved to be impractical and uneconomical, due to the large percentage of animals that had to be returned when they were found unsuitable, it was decided in 1946 that dogs would be purchased thereby becoming the sole property of the Government as had been the practice with other types of animals for many years.

Standardization of One Breed

In World War II almost every breed of dog, large and small, was procured by "Dogs for Defense" for the military service. During the war years the dogs were utilized in every theater of operations, which encompassed every type of climate from Greenland's perpetual ice to New Guinea's steaming jungles. It was soon determined that many breeds had shortcomings which limited their serviceability, However, at that time, "beggars could not be choosers" and the animals received were utilized to the best of their ability.

A few examples of the shortcomings were that sporting breeds were unsatisfactory for scouting patrols because it was too difficult to overcome the game instinct which had been bred into them for generations; collies on the whole did not have the stamina to withstand the rigors of combat, especially in tropical climates; and Doberman Pinschers were "temperate" climate dogs which could not be used satisfactorily either in the tropics or in the Arctic. It was decided to select the one breed which would be best for training and service throughout the world. This breed had to meet three basic requirements; (1) have the ability to perform all types of service demanded by the armed forces; (2) be suitable for duty in all climates and (3) be bred extensively enough to meet all possible demands. The breed selected was the German Shepherd,

The German Shepherd fulfils the requirements because of the natural uniformity within the breed and ready availability of supply. These dogs also exhibit suitable temperament for the various types of work that might be demanded, good working ability adequate size and ruggedness. Physically, the German Shepherd is ideally adapted to all climates. This breed has a short dense undercoat which grows profusely in a cold climate and is shed readily in a warm one. The outer coat is harsh and provides adequate protection against insect bites and sunburn.

The choice has proven to be a very satisfactory one not only for routine duty within the United States and Germany but also in combat in Korea. In every instance the dog's performance has been superior.

"The required physical specifications prior to presenting the dog for purchase cover various points in addition to general physical and mental soundness. He should be a sturdy compact working type, revealing evidence of power, endurance and energy. The dog must have good bones, well-proportioned body, deep chest with ribs well sprung, strong pasterns and muscular feet with hard wall-cushioned paws. Front feet should not toe inward or outward, Hind quarters should have moderate angulation, and, as viewed from the rear, hind legs should be straight. The temperament of the dog should show general alertness, steadiness, vigor and responsiveness. He should not be timid, nervous, gun or noise-shy. In addition, the dog must be from nine months to three years old, must be between 22 inches and 28 inches high at the shoulder and must weigh between 60 and 90 pounds, The dog may be either male or female, but a female must have been spayed 60 days prior to being offered for purchase."

Use of Dogs in Korea

Before the outbreak of hostilities in Korea the Army was using dogs in Seoul for sentry duty around warehouses and storage areas. More than one hundred dogs were stationed there and their work proved extremely beneficial in reducing theft and pilferage.

When fighting began in Korea, there was one Infantry scout dog platoon in training at Fort Riley Kansas which was sent over there to assist combat patrols. This Platoon, the 26th saw almost continuous service and opened the eyes of many regimental commanders to the potential value of dogs attached to patrols. One regimental commander remarked that after using a dog for a while patrols did not want to go out without them. This one platoon was not capable of spreading itself thin enough to fill the demand.

The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon was cited in General Orders, Department of the Army, No. 21, 27 February- 1953, as follows:

"The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon is cited for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services in direct support of combat operations in Korea during the period 12 June 1951 to 15 January 1953. The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, during its service in Korea, has participated in hundreds of combat patrol actions by supporting the patrols with the services of an expert scout dog handler and his highly trained scout dog. The members of the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon while participating in these patrols were invariably located at the most vulnerable points in the patrol formation in order that the special aptitudes of the trained dog could be most advantageously used to give warning of the presence of the enemy, The unbroken record of faithful and gallant performance of these missions by the individual handlers and their dogs in support of patrols has saved countless casualties through giving early warning to the friendly patrol of threats to its security. The full value of the services rendered by the 26th Infantry

Scout Dog Platoon is nowhere better understood and more highly recognized than among the members of the patrols with whom the scout dog handlers and their dogs have operated, When not committed to action, the soldiers of the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon have given unfailing efforts to further developing their personal skills as well as that of their dogs in order to better perform the rigorous duties which are required of them while on patrol. Throughout its long period of difficult and hazardous service, the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon has never failed those with whom it served; has consistently shown outstanding devotion to duty in the performance of all of its other duties, and has won on the battlefield a degree of respect and admiration which has established it as a unit of the greatest importance to the Eighth United States Army. The outstanding performance of duty proficiency, and esprit de corps invariably exhibited by the personnel of this platoon reflect the greatest credit on themselves and the military service of the United States." - (General Orders 114, Headquarters, Eighth United States Army, Korea, 18 January 1953).

As a result of the outstanding service rendered by the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, recommendation was made and approved for the activation of a scout dog platoon to be attached to each Division in Korea, but the war reached the "peace talks" stage before five additional platoons were trained and shipped to Korea. Members of the original scout dog platoon were awarded three Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars of Valor, and thirty five Bronze Stars of Meritorious Service. 

Sentry dogs were used by the Army and the Air Force for guarding bases and supply points in Korea, Japan and Okinawa. The psychological effect of the dogs' presence is difficult to estimate yet the fact remains that innumerable individuals have reported that when a dog and handle were assigned to an area pilferage stopped. When the Conflict was over, scout dogs not assigned to Infantry Divisions were retrained for sentry works.

War Dog Receiving and Holding Station, Cameron Station, Va.

On 11 July 1951 at the outset of Korean hostilities a War Dog Receiving and Holding Station was activated at Cameron Station Alexandria, Virginia, where newly purchased dogs were processed and conditioned before they were shipped to the Amy Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colorado. This Station was placed in a stand-by status on 4 May 1954 after peace negotiations had ended the fighting. 

Return of Scout Dog YORK - Canine Veteran of Korean Conflict

Authority was granted on 8 May 1957 for the return of the scout dog YORK Brand Number O11X, from the Far East. YORK was decorated for outstanding service as a scout dog while serving with the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon in Korea. He was given a Distinguished Service Award by General Samuel T. Williams for performing 148 combat Patrols between 12 June 1951 and 26 June 1953. He was accompanied on his return trip to the United States by a returning enlisted man and delivered to the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colorado to be used as a member of a demonstration team. It was felt that YORK would help improve public relations by arousing more interest in the recruitment and procurement of dogs for military purposes. When the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson was deactivated on I July 1957 YORK was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, to be attached to the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon at that Station.

Deactivation of the Army Dog Training Center, Fort-Carson, Colo.

A study was made by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in the latter part of 1956 to determine the cost of operating the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colo. and whether, in view of limited dog requirements the activity should continue. The Center was then being used largely for the training of Air Force dogs on a prorated cost basis. The Department of Defense appointed the Air Force to handle the procurement and training of sentry dogs. Military dogs were considered a weapons system shared by the other branches of service.  Under DOD procedures the logistical support for a shared weapons system is handled usually by the service that developed the weapon. or the largest user. The Army decided that since the majority of the dogs were going to the USAF, that it could have the dog program.

On 29 December 1956, the following decisions were announced:

That the Army Dog Training Center will be discontinued prior to 30 June 1957.

That no funds or personnel will be programmed for this activity in Fiscal 1958.

That the Air Force be given an opportunity to take over and run the dog training operation.

The Air Force decided to move training operations from  Fort Carson, CO to Lackland AFB, Texas. The Center was closed as directed on I July 1957. 

That increase was caused by the use of dog teams to provide security to nuclear storage areas and nuclear-armed aircraft during the cold war. The Air Force started its Sentry Dog School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where students from all services were trained. Training centers were also started in Japan and Germany to support the Pacific and European theater bases. 

Use of  sentry dogs, by the Air Force was limited to guarding nuclear storage areas at SAC bases. By choice the majority of these bases were located in cold climates (North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Maine, etc.) or other desolate locations . Handlers often told of leaving their dogs in the kennels during winter blizzards. The veterinarian would not allow their dogs to be exposed to the below freezing environments. However, that was not the case for the handlers. No one spoke up for them and they went out on post alone. 

Public Support of War Dog Program

Erroneous publicity indicated that the "K-9 Corps" would be disbanded simultaneously with the closing of the Training Center. As a deluge of protests from individuals and organizations was received.

The following letters addressed directly to the Secretary of Defense are indicative of the feelings expressed:

"I strongly request you to reconsider demobilizing the K-9 Corps. These dogs performed a very useful service during the war as I can personally attest to, I owe my life to one of these dogs. While fighting in Korea I was attacked and one of these dogs took over my attacker and I was able to recover my footing and escaped. Please reconsider." - Submitted by Frank Conanno, 1470 Third Street, West Babylon, N. Y.

"I have read in various periodicals your intention of disbanding the K-9 Corps. I am taking this means of voicing my objection to such a move.

"As a Gold Star Mother, I believe I understand the meaning of losing some one close. Various reports coming back from the battlefields in World War II and the Korean Conflict have given detailed descriptions of how these wonderful dogs saved many American lives.

"Please before you abandon this work; attempt to economize somewhere else and keep these wonderful animals on the job." Submitted by Mrs. H. Distel, 686 W. 18th Street, Garden., Calif.

"I am in the Army and was put into the scout dog platoon and trained dogs for nine months in the States and have had the same dog all the times. This dog STAR has saved my life and about twelve other men's lives. I would like to know if there is any way that I could have him discharged the same time that I am. I would gladly pay the Government for the dog and take all the responsibility for him.

"I would appreciate it very much if you could help me in any way so I could take him home with me. This dog is not dangerous and would be suitable to civilian life." - Submitted by Cpl, Max Meyers, 26th Infantry, Scout Dog Platoon, APO #60 San Francisco, Calif.

"I am writing to protest against the effort to dispose of the Army's dogs. Dogs are indispensable in our Army. I know many other persons who feel this way.

"A dog has nature's own radar; his nose. Ha can notice things even in the dark. He is courageous, noble, trustworthy and honest. His ears are keener than human ears. He is a swift messenger, There isn't a thing on this old Mother Earth that is so faithful, so loyal, so willing to give his life for his master than a dog. "Disposing of the dogs would be the greatest mistake that the Army could make." - Submitted by Wendy Bogue, Eau Claire, Wis..

Dog Procurement Activities After Korea

The Army Dog Procurement Program resulting from the Korean Conflict came to an abrupt standstill as soon as hostilities ceased. Most of the dogs on hand in the Far East Command and those enroute to that area were scout dogs. When they were put on sentry duty to guard supplies and equipment in an effort to reduce pilferage, a surplus of dogs was produced in some areas which took care of normal replacement procurement for a full year.

Infantry Scout Dog Platoons in CONUS

Infantry Scout Dog Platoon were assigned to installations in CONUS as follows:

25th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Ord, California

26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Benning, Georgia

44th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Benning, Georgia

48th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Riley., Kansas

49th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Lewis, Washington

On 22 March 1957, a pilot program for using sentry dogs to guard NIKE sites throughout the country was approved, Ten dogs and their handlers, men attached to the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command, comprised the initial program. If at the expiration of a suitable trial period it is determined that the program is a success additional dogs at the rate of 30 per month until about 300 dogs have been procured will be used to guard other sites*.

In line with the Department of Defense austerity program in the fall of 1957; the 25th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon was deactivated on 23 September 1957. The 44th, 48th and 49th Infantry Scout Dog Platoons were deactivated on 1 November 1957. This again left the 26th as the only remaining Infantry- Scout Dog Platoon in CONUS, It is being retained as a training unit at Fort Benning., Georgia.

Dogs Used in Overseas Commands

In the Army as a whole, there remained a small number of sledge dogs on duty in Alaska; 4 sentry dogs in the Caribbean Command, used to protect over 43,000 circuit miles of subterranean cable valued at approximately $2 ,000 000; and approximately 250 in the Far East Command and 500 in EUCOM (European Command) as of 1 November 1957.

Procurement of Dogs for Department of the Air Force

During the latter part of Fiscal Year 1955, representatives of the Strategic Air Command, Department of the Air Force, consulted representatives of the Office of The Quartermaster General relative to large-scale procurement of sentry dogs to relieve the manpower shortage, by guarding Air Fields, materiel and equipment. Arrangements were made for such procurement by the Quartermaster Corps and for delivery of procured dogs to the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson, Colorado, for training,

The school trained sentry dogs for all branches of the military. Those teams provided a physical and psychological deterrent against those attempting to penetrate restricted areas, as well as early detection capability. By the late 50s, the Air Force used the majority of Ft. Carson trained sentry dogs on the perimeters of nuclear weapons storage sites.

During Fiscal Year 1956, 593 dogs were procured and trained for the Department of the Air Force. A similar procurement program was begun in Fiscal Year 1957, but mid-way through the program the decision to close the Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson was made and all procurement suspended pending establishment of suitable training facilities by the Department of Air Force. During the fiscal year, prior to suspension of procurement, 382 dogs had been purchased and trained for the Air Forces.




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