March 13th

National K9 Veterans Day -

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Each year on March 13th, we set aside a day to honor and commemorate our heroic canine veterans for their service and dedication. Recognized as National K9 Veterans Day, this special day pays tribute to American military and working dogs for their unwavering loyalty and bravery. These remarkable dogs play significant roles in the military, police forces, search and rescue operations, and other areas of service worldwide.

Their invaluable contributions to countless missions cannot be overstated. On this day, we express our gratitude and appreciation for these heroic canines.

History of National K9 Veterans Day

Retired military dog handler Joe White conceptualized this commemorative day. The United States War Dogs Association mentions that the day was dedicated with the aim to honor service dogs involved in various roles in the United States military, from working as sentries and scouts to taking on roles as messengers and even participating in search and rescue missions.

After dedicating over 20 years of his life to service in the U.S Military as a working dog handler, White retired with a deep sense of appreciation for the work that he and other service dogs he worked with had accomplished. This appreciation motivated him to propose a day to honor K9 veterans.

Why March 13th? White chose this date to align with the creation of the United States K9 Corps, which was founded on March 13, 1942. The day was first honored on March 13, 2009, and aims to recognize these service dogs for their service and sacrifices for our country.

From initially honoring only military dogs, the day has gradually evolved to also acknowledge police, customs, border patrol, and search and rescue dogs. These canine heroes are appreciated for their services and the significant role they play in supporting their handlers and serving the nation.

National K9 Veterans Day Timeline

Establishment of K9 Corps

The United States started training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or 'K9 Corps', during World War II on March 13.

Dogs in World War II

Thousands of dogs served in World War II as scouts, sentries, messengers and more, helping to save countless lives.

Honoring Military Dogs

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Public Law 389 which allowed for retired military working dogs to be adopted.

Establishment of National K9 Veterans Day

Joe White, a Vietnam veteran and dog trainer, creates National K9 Veterans Day to honor military service and working dogs in the United States military.

Military Working Dog Team Support Association

The association is created to support dog teams currently in service. They send care packages and help get retired dogs adopted.

Ideas to Celebrate National K9 Veterans Day

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Host a Community Event

Gather your local residents and host a community event in a local park or community center. This event could include a benefit race for K9 veterans or a contest for 'best dressed' military dog. All proceeds could go to a charity dedicated to supporting K9 veterans.

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Social Media Appreciation Post

Raise awareness about National K9 Veterans Day by sharing posts on social media in appreciation of K9 services and veterans. This could also involve sharing famous stories of K9 bravery from past and present military operations.

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Donating to a K9 Veterans Charity

Celebrate this special day by donating to charities that take care of retiring military dogs. You can also encourage your friends and family members to do the same.

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Visit a Veteran K9 Facility

Plan a visit to a veteran facility where K9s are taken care of. Spend some time with these heroic dogs, volunteer in the facility or simply share this experience with your friends and family.

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Movie Night with Military Dog Films

Enjoy a movie night with friends and family featuring films based on military dogs. Some popular films include 'Max' and 'Megan Leavey'.

7 Interesting Facts About K9 Veterans


A War Dog Memorial

To honor the canine heroes of all wars, there is a War Dog Memorial in Holmdel, New Jersey.


Incredibly Effective in Vietnam

The use of K9s in the Vietnam war resulted in a 98% success rate in signaling alerts for ambushes and traps.


Making A Huge Impact

During WWII, K9 veterans were responsible for saving thousands of lives. It's estimated a well-trained war dog could do the work of 40 soldiers.


Heroic Dog of 9/11

The most decorated dog in history is a K9 veteran Labrador Retriever named Salty, who guided his blind owner out of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks.


Highly Trained

Military dogs are often trained in a type of bomb, drug, or weapons search, based on their specific breed and abilities.


Not Just Dogs

While dogs are the most common, several other animals including pigeons, horses and dolphins have also been officially recognized as veterans.


Retirement and Adoption

After serving their time and retiring, these brave dogs are generally put up for adoption and can get a second lease on life with a loving family.

National K9 Veterans Day FAQs

Next National K9 Veterans Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 March 13th Monday
2024 March 13th Wednesday
2025 March 13th Thursday
2026 March 13th Friday
2027 March 13th Saturday
What is the pattern? Every March 13th

National K9 Veterans Day Word Search

  • Veterans
  • Service
  • Dogs
  • Military
  • Loyalty
  • Bravery