Super Pets: Dogs’ Heroic Actions

Katriona Page, Copy Editor

Pet-owners tend to agree on the many virtues of their animals: they are lifelong friends and loyal companions who help with bad days, loneliness and everything in between. Some pets, however, take it to the next level, by performing heroic deeds and risking their own lives to save both their owners’ and strangers’. Others are more disguised heroes, helping their handlers with the basics navigation of daily life.

The most recent high-profile case of an animal-turned-hero occured on Oct. 26, when

a military dog was critical to the capturing and killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. When U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and Joint Special Operations Command flew to Idlib, a province in northwestern Syria, to capture or kill al-Baghdadi,  a K9 unit was also involved in the operation.

One member of the unit, a male Belgian Malinois —  the same breed of dog that assisted in the take-down of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeida’s longtime leader — named Conan, played an especially important role; he was the one sent into a dead-end tunnel to chase down and corner al-Baghdadi, who was believed to be wearing a suicide vest. The predictions were correct; al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, and he detonated it after being cornered. Unfortunately, Conan was also injured in the explosion. 

According to The Washington Post, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that Conan was “slightly wounded and fully recovering” and had returned to duty.

Conan was also hailed as a hero. “The dog, the canine, the military working dog, performed a tremendous service, as they all do in a variety of situations,” Milley said. 

Others expressed their appreciation for the dog’s service. “…Conan will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week!” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

“I think it’s really cool that… [Conan] is being recognized for his service,” sophomore and former PAWS member Josie Blohm said. “Killing the leader of ISIS is a big deal, and [Conan] should be rewarded for that.”

Conan is not the only heroic canine. Countless other animals perform valuable — and yes, even heroic — services every day, guiding and assisting their handlers with disabilities with daily activities. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, give their vision-impaired handlers some measure of independence, such as the ability to more confidently and safely leave the house.

“Without service dogs, I think it would be a lot more difficult for some people to experience [things] and get around,” Blohm said.

In the U.S. there are approximately 500,000 active service dogs. With the Americans with Disabilities Act, these dogs must be given access to everywhere their human handlers go.

“Service dogs are definitely heroes,” sophomore and PAWS member Mikayla Ashe said. “They might not get as much attention as dogs that save people’s lives, but…they are still important and help their owners…navigate the world.”