By Debbie Gregory.
American Humane is committed to recognizing and celebrating the lifesaving contributions of the brave dogs who support our armed forces on the battlefield.
The five retired military dogs who have received the Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage to America demonstrated exceptional valor in serving our country by uncovering improvised explosive devices, sniffing out weapons caches, surviving ambushes, boosting morale, and saving lives.
“Soldiers have been relying on these four-footed comrades-in-arms since the beginning of organized warfare and today military dogs are more important than ever in keeping our service men and women safe,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “It’s estimated that each of these dogs saved 250 lives.”
Alphie worked with Marine Lance Cpl. William Herron in Helmand province and had several close calls- being shot at numerous times, almost falling out of a V-22 Osprey that was under fire. Alphie, 7, works as a member of the TSA’s elite Canine Explosives Detection Program.
Capa helped provide safety for a dozen Naval ships and 26,000 personnel — including his handler, Navy Master-at-Arms Petty Officer Second Class Megan Wooster. Wooster adopted Capa, but is getting ready for a deployment, so he is living with Wooster’s mother.
Coffee, a Chocolate Lab, has served alongside Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett, an explosives detection dog, for almost 10 years, including three tours in Afghanistan.
Ranger, a Black Lab, served in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he worked as an explosives-detection dog specializing in IEDs. He suffered from heatstroke in 2012 and retired from service. He is currently living with his owner, Kirk Adams, a retired police sergeant, and his wife. Ranger is battling cancer.
The award was given in memoriam to Gabe, a pound puppy from Texas, who completed more than 210 combat missions, with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq. Gabe passed away in 2013 in the arms of his adopter, retired Army Sgt. First Class Chuck Shuck. Gabe was selected as the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008 and won the top title of American Hero Dog at the annual national American Humane Hero Dog Awards in 2012.
Over 1,600 dogs currently serve in the U.S. military. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, 34 dogs have been killed in action.