Five dogs who served in the U.S. military were awarded the American Humane Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage to recognize the canines' extraordinary valor during their time of service.
"By helping locate enemy positions, engage the enemy, and sniff out deadly [improvised explosive devices] and hidden weapons, military dogs have saved countless lives in the fight for freedom and they deserve the recognition they are getting this evening," Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., said Wednesday on Capitol Hill during the awards ceremony.
"Nowhere is the power of the human-animal bond more apparent than it is between our men and women in service and their faithful military dogs," he said.
Four of the dogs who received the awards were present, as one has died. The recipients were Capa, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Alphie, who served in Afghanistan, Coffee, who completed three tours in Afghanistan, Ranger, who served alongside Marines in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gabe, who engaged in more than 200 combat missions in Iraq before passing away in 2013.
"Each dog allows so many services members to come home to be moms and dads, or sons and daughters," said Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane.
The Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage was created by American Humane and veterans advocate Lois Pope in 2016. Four dogs received the award in its inaugural year. American Humane has worked to assist those in the U.S. military, veterans, and military service animals for more than 100 years.