Explained: how are army dogs recruited and trained, what tasks do they perform?

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A two-year-old army dog ​​named Axel was killed in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir on July 30 while taking part in a search operation with a Rashtriya Rifles battalion. Axel was given a ceremonial Army honor guard before his burial in the Army canine unit in which he served.

How did the army dog ​​Axel die?

Axel was serving with the 26 Army Dog Unit in the Kashmir Valley and was deployed on a search mission during a counter-terrorism operation conducted by the 29 Rashtriya Rifles. While cleaning the rooms where the suspected terrorists were hiding, one of the hidden terrorists shot him, causing fatal injuries. A subsequent autopsy of Axel performed at the 54 Army Veterinary Hospital revealed that he had more than ten gunshot wounds and a fractured femur.

Axel was honored at a ceremony hosted by Sector 10 Rashtriya Rifles HQ where wreaths were laid by General Officer Commanding Rashtriya Rifles Force Kilo and other senior officers. He was later buried on the unit grounds of the 26th Army Canine Unit.

How many canine units does the Indian army have?

In a statement to Parliament in 2019, the Minister of State for Defense revealed that the army had 25 full canine units and two half units. A complete canine unit includes 24 dogs and a half-unit has 12.

What types of dogs are inducted into the military?

The Indian Army has different breeds of dogs in its canine units. These include Labradors, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. Axel would have been a Belgian Malinois dog.

What tasks do army dogs perform and where are they trained?

There are a variety of tasks that are performed by army dogs including guard duty, patrolling, sniffing out explosives including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mine detection, sniffing out smuggled items, including drugs, assaulting potential targets, detecting avalanche debris as well as participating. in search operations to locate fugitives and terrorists in hiding.

Each army dog ​​is accompanied by a dog handler who is responsible for the well-being of the dog as well as guiding it through the various tasks it must perform.

Army dogs are trained at the Remount and Veterinary Corps Center and School located in Meerut. A dog training school was started here in 1960. Depending on the breed and aptitude of the dogs, they are trained in various skills before being inducted.

How long do army dogs remain in service?

Army dogs are in service for about eight years before being retired. There was a previous practice of euthanizing army dogs after they were no longer on active duty. A response from RTI in 2015 giving this information caused a public outcry following which the policy was changed.

Army dogs are no longer permanently dormant. A PIL had also been filed in the Delhi High Court in this regard in 2016, where the then Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain submitted a statement stating that the animal euthanasia policy was being amended and that the dogs would be rehabilitated.

Are army dogs decorated for bravery?

In the Indian Army, animals including dogs are eligible to receive the Army Chief of Staff Congratulations Card, Vice Chief of Staff Congratulations Card as well as the congratulations from the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for their acts of bravery as well as their distinguished service. Dog handlers are eligible for bravery medals and have been awarded the Shaurya Chakra and Sena medal for bravery while participating in operations with their dogs.

In the UK, the highest honor for animals in military or police service is the PDSA Dickin Medal. It was instituted in 1943 by Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) for any animal showing remarkable bravery and devotion while serving in the British Armed Forces or Civilian Emergency Services . The bronze Dickin Medal is engraved with the words “For Gallantry” on one side and “We Also Serve” on the other.

In the United States, there is a Medal of Bravery, which is awarded to animals and was instituted in 2019. The United States also has a K-9 Medal of Bravery which was instituted by the American Humane Association.

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