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Combat canines remembered on ANZAC Day

THIS Anzac Day, Dogs NSW pays tribute to those dogs that provided assistance to soldiers during times of war overseas. “Dogs have served in the Australian military going right back to World War 1.

They played an important part in the Vietnam War and are still involved in Afghanistan and other current campaigns.

Canines in combat provide outstanding help to our soldiers by acting as sentries, trackers, and bomb detectors.

They also aid the morale of Australian forces as close companions of soldiers.”, said veterinary adviser and Dogs NSW spokesperson Dr Peter Higgins.

Labradors were trained in Australia, and sent overseas to work during the Vietnam War.

They worked full-time as vital members of the team. On many occasions they saved their handler’s lives, sniffing out mines buried under tracks, or detecting trip-wires.

“It’s no surprise that Labs played a big role in past battles.

They are a calm and loyal animal, and that means they are well suited to almost every occupation, be it a family pet
or as a workmate.

They would have taken good care of their handlers and kept them company, especially important given the amount of grief soldiers would feel in times of war.”, explains Dr Higgins.

Dogs that served in Vietnam were not permitted to return to Australia, and were left with expatriates and their families living in South Vietnam.

Today, MWDs (Military Working Dogs) serve for a maximum of four months before returning to Australia.

MWDs have proved particularly useful in peacekeeping missions in Timor and Bougainville Island. German Shepherd Dogs are commonly used today for their intelligent, dependable, and predictable temperaments.

“The contribution of dogs to past military efforts abroad are well worth remembering on Anzac Day.

They have served faithfully going back to 1914 right up to present day conflicts.”, states Dr Higgins.

Dogs NSW especially honours Sarbi, a black Labrador, who was an Army Explosives Detection dog that was lost in a battle in Afghanistan.

After going missing for 13 months Sarbi was found in a local village and has since been returned home to Australia.

The battle in which Sarbi went Missing in Action, when a rocket-propelled grenade broke the lead that tethered Sarbi to her handler, was the same battle that Lance Corporal Mark Donaldson earned the Victoria Cross.