World War II Animals: Individual Species--Dogs

World War II dogs
Figure 1.--This is an undated photogrph of a young Finnish soldier in the Dog Corps and his very alert canine. Finland had a huge land border with the Soviet Union and a very small army to protect that border.

Dogs were also important during the War. They were used by several countries and in many different roles. The Germans based on their World War I experiences trained an incredible 0.2 million dogs for the military. No country even approached this effort. The fact that the Germans occupied many countries, meant they were operating in unfriendly countries and often hostile territorty. And one of the major German problems was manpower shortages. The dogs proved useful in security duties. This included the vast system of labor and concentration camps established throughout NAZI-occupied Europe. Here the use of dogs was tragic. One more part of the horror of NAZI terror. The dog forces of other countries were much smaller. The United States did not begin to train a Canine (K-9) Corps until after Pearl Harbor (December 1941). This began with the civilian Dogs for Defence Inc. training nine dogs. Eventuually the U.S. military trained more than 10,000 dogs--a small fraction of the dogs trained by the Germans. As in World War I, the dogs were used for sentry duty as well as scouts and messengers. They also proved useful in finding mines and booby traps. They were deployed domesticlly, especially with Coast Guard coast waters. They were also deployed in both the European and Pacific theaters. The largest usage in combat roles was probably by the Americans in the Pacific. The Soviets trained dogs to destroy tanks. Dog also provided soldiers a degree of companionship, important given the extended period away from hme and family. This seemed particularly imprtant for the Allies, although we note the Germand with pet dogs as well. Perhaps the most fmous dog of the war was Ant, a German sheperd rescued by a Czech aviator flying with the British. Many pets and even working dogs did not survive the War as aresult of the terrible food shortages the Germans set in motion. With programs like the Hunger Plan in place, there was little ability of feeding pets, even treasured animals, in German occupied countries. The Allied strategic bombing campaign also killed many German pets as hey were not allowed in the bomb shelters. Also many of the dogs used for security purposes had to be destroyed.

Utility

Dogs were also important during the War. As in World War I, the dogs were used for sentry duty as well as scouts and messengers. They also proved useful in finding mines and booby traps. They were deployed domestically, especially with Coast Guard coast waters. They were also deployed in both the European and Pacific theaters. The largest usage in combat roles was probably by the Americans in the Pacific. The Soviets trained dogs to destroy tanks. Dog also provided soldiers a degree of companionship, important given the extended period away from hme and family. This seemed particularly imprtant for the Allies, although we note the Germand with pet dogs as well.

Famous Dogs

Perhaps the most famous dog of the war was Ant, a German sheperd rescued by a Czech aviator flying with the British. Bobert Bozdech, Czech airman, was shot down in France during the German invasion. He came across an abndoned German shepherd puppy. He named him Ant and they began a dangerous treck to get to Britain. Their biographer writes, "The house now secured, it was time to get Pierre. The question was what to do with his newfound friend? Robert could hardly deposit him behind the chair again, for knowing puppies a he did, this one ould likely start whining just as soon as he had disappeared. It was critical that he keep the liitle ball of fur happy and quiet, at least for now. He unzipped the front of his leather bomber jacket, slipped the puppy inside, and zipped it closed again." [Lewis] Bozdech and ant made it sfly to Britain and begn flying with RAF Bomber Command. Together they urvived crash kandings and parachute bailouts. Ant would ultimately save Boizdech's life. By the end of the war, Ant was a British war hero.

Countries

They were used by several countries and in many different roles. The Germans based on their World War I experiences trained an incredible 0.2 million dogs for the military. No country even approached this effort. The fact that the Germans occupied many countries, meant they were operating in unfriendly countries and often hostile territorty. And one of the major German problems was manpower shortages. The dogs proved useful in security duties. This included the vast system of labor and concentration camps established throughout NAZI-occupied Europe. Here the use of dogs was tragic. One more part of the horror of NAZI terror. The dog forces of other countries were much smaller. The United States did not begin to train a Canine (K-9) Corps until after Pearl Harbor (December 1941). This began with the civilian Dogs for Defence Inc. training nine dogs. Eventuually the U.S. military trained more than 10,000 dogs--a small fraction of the dogs trained by the Germans.

Pets

The fate of pets during World War II is one of the least reported aspect of the War. American pets were unaffected. This was not what transpired in Europe. Here there were two majorimpacts. Food rationing meant that it became very difficult to feed pets. Stratehic bombing meant that it became diffivult to feed oets as they were not permitted in public shelters. The exact situation and time-line varied from country to country as did the time line. We know a good bit about what happend in Britain. Little thought was given to pets before the outbreak of the War. Thus at the start of the War, many pet owners paniced. It is believed that some 0.75 million domestic pets (primarily cats and dogs, were euthenized in various ways. This asonishly happened in the course of 1 week with the out break of the War Seotember 1939). This seems almost unbelievable in a country remounded to be populated with animal lovers. Government agencies as Britain move toward War, suddenly realized that pets woulf be a pronlem. The National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) was hastily formed. It drafted a short broadside, 'Advice to Animal Owners'. The NARPAC did not order the edestrucyion of family pets, they dis advise pet owners, "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." Finally the NARPAC advised petowners "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." The NARPAC instructions was printed in almost every newspaper as well as announced on the BBC. One author describes it as a "a national tragedy in the making". Many pets and even working dogs did not survive the War as a result of the terrible food shortages the Germans set in motion. With programs like the Hunger Plan in place, there was little ability of feeding pets, even treasured family pets. in German occupied countries. The Allied strategic bombing campaign also killed many German pets as hey were not allowed in the bomb shelters. Pets wee een as a ourgeois extravigabce in the soviet Union, byt there were some. When Lenningrad was cut off and rations cut, pets could not be kept. Families often exchanged pets so they would not have to kill their own pets.

Post-War Disposition

Also many of the dogs used for security purposes had to be destroyed.

Sources

Lewis, Damien. The Dog Who Could Fly: The WWII Puppy Who Took To the Skies (2014), 304p.






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Created: 7:31 PM 6/30/2014
Last updated: 12:05 AM 4/9/2015