Archive for September, 2008

Australian K9 teams accused of torture

Posted in Foreign Dog Teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , on September 23, 2008 by wardogmarine

It turns out some military working dog handlers are accused of torturing prisoners again. However, this time it is Australian troops in Afghanistan that are being accused. The troops say the detainee broke from his restraints and attacked them, the detainee said it wasn’t just the dogs that tortured him. Read the article from The Sydney Morning Herald and decide for yourself.

Torture claims against troops

AUSTRALIAN troops face fresh allegations of mistreating an Afghan prisoner, just weeks after a bungled Defence Department response to earlier abuse claims handed the Taliban a propaganda victory.

The new claims come from an Afghan farmer who alleges he was beaten, subjected to electric shocks and attacked by a military dog after being captured by Australian special forces last month.

The Australian Defence Force denied the claims and said the man, Abdul Nabi, 30, was bitten by the dog after attacking two soldiers.

Mr Nabi made his allegations to two representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and to Dutch journalist Arnold Karskens.

Karskens told The Sun-Herald via email Mr Nabi had wounds to his thighs, left arm and hand, and chest. Mr Nabi also alleged he was subjected to electric prods to his back while he was being taken to a detention centre.

The ADF confirmed that a “military working dog” was used in the raid and that Mr Nadi was bitten “after he broke from his restraints and attacked two soldiers, including the dog handler”. It denied claims Mr Nabi was beaten and given electric shocks.

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New York State Police K9 Cops

Posted in police dog teams, police dogs with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2008 by wardogmarine

Working dogs: the K-9 cop

By: Lisa Chelenza of news10now.com 

The New York State Police started using bloodhounds for tracking in the 1930s and also recruit other breeds like Labs and Rottweilers. Trooper Jeff Cicora has been a K-9 handler for almost eight years and explains why the German shepherd is a favorite.

“The image of a working dog for police is the German shepherd. They are easy to train, very loyal, very courageous. And in the overall police job they do the best of everything,” said Cicora.


(courtesy News10now.com )

The dogs who become K-9 cops are either donated or adopted as youngsters and only the bravest, smartest and most playful complete the 26 weeks of specialized training in Cooperstown, N.Y. to become officers.

“A K-9 unit dog and handler are trained in several different things. They are trained in obedience, handler protection and either drugs or explosives, they are never trained in both,” said Cicora.

Trooper Cicora’s dog Devitt is trained to protect him, search for bad guys and sniff out explosives.

 Like all K-9 cops, Devitt is named after a fallen trooper. Trooper Kenneth Devitt died from injuries he received in an on duty car accident in 1937.

As you can imagine the relationship between dog and handler is complicated and goes beyond pet parent and companion.

“These come with us every tour of duty we make, they are more of a family member than a pet,” said Cicora.

If you happen to come across a K-9 cop, be sure to ask their handler if it’s okay to pet them. You wouldn’t want to disturb them while they’re working.

K9 Heroes of 9/11 Tribute Videos-Part 2

Posted in Miscellaneous, Tribute Videos, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by wardogmarine

K9 Heroes of 9/11 Tribute Videos

Posted in Miscellaneous, Tribute Videos, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by wardogmarine

Today is the 9/11 anniversary. It is a day we honor those we lost and those that fought so bravely to save lives. It was one of those days we all remember where we were when we first heard about what was happening. I was in Marine Corps boot camp. I had just arrived to boot camp one month earlier. Little did I know what was about to happen and where that path was going to lead me. Several years later, one tour of duty with my dog completed, several friends KIA, and a whole new outlook and appreciation of life later I am proud to have served my country and honor those who lost their lives that day. 

9/11 changed our world. It also skyrocketed the demand for working dog teams. Never before has there been such a high demand for search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, etc. Even to this day dog teams continue to be on the frontlines all around the world and here at home protecting our freedom. These videos are dedicated to our canine heroes of 9/11. Thank you to all those who put these together. 

Air Force K9 Handler Married Soldier Who Saved Her Life

Posted in air force teams, Military Working Dogs, retired dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine

This is an incredible story. Love sure brings people together in the most unique ways. This Air Force military working dog team is struck by an IED(improvised explosive device). Although badly wounded, she and her military working dog Rex survive. The US Army medic who comes to her aid, saves her life, and they eventually get married. On top of all that, they are allowed to adopt her military working dog Rex. I wish these two all the best. The article, which is from the Air Force Times is below. 

Jamie’s war wounds

K-9 handler adopted her Air Force dog and married the soldier who saved her life. But she’s still struggling to recover

By Michael Hoffman – Staff writer, Air Force Times

Every married couple has a story about the first time they met. Mike and Jaime Mangan met on the battlefield in Iraq.

She was severely wounded, and he almost let her die.

Jaime, then an Air Force K-9 handler with the 21st Security Forces Squadron, was patrolling Baghdad on June 25, 2005, with her working dog, Rex. They were searching for improvised explosive devices.

On the drive back to base in her Humvee, Jamie drove over one.

The explosion flung her onto the street, where she lay unconscious. Mike, an Army sergeant first class with the 1159th Medical Company, was the first medic to reach her.

Jaime’s lungs had collapsed, her pelvis was shattered, and three vertebrae in her spine were fractured. Mike later discovered she also was bleeding internally, and her spleen had ruptured.

He had to make a snap decision: Should he spend time trying to save her or — due to the seriousness of her injuries — move on to help others who might have a better chance of surviving?

As luck would have it, several factors allowed him to focus on Jaime.

The helicopter that took him and other soldiers to the scene was ready to depart immediately, so he got there quicker than usual. In addition, he had a new medic working with him, so he could afford to spend time with Jaime.

“If I hadn’t had the extra medic that day and we had been five minutes later, she would have been someone I had to leave behind,” he said.

When Mike finally left Jaime’s side, he had no reason to think he would see her again. And he wouldn’t have — except for Rex.

The German shepherd survived the IED attack with only a singed nose and was found walking near the blast site. Jaime, rehabbing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., thought the dog had been killed, but once she found out he survived, she wanted to adopt him.

Rex was nowhere near retirement age, however, and under Title 10, U.S. Code 2583, the Air Force couldn’t release Rex if he was still young and healthy enough to work.

Jaime chose to fight that law, going public with her plea. Many newspapers and TV news stations carried stories on her plight. Soon, members of Congress and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley took notice and backed her request.

On Dec. 30, 2005, President Bush signed into law a bill to allow working dogs to be adopted by their handlers after a traumatic event.

So Jaime was able to take Rex home. Together, they attended the 2006 State of the Union speech as guests of first lady Laura Bush in the House gallery.

“The entire process was a neat deal,” said Jaime’s dad, Randy Himes. “Rex is now part of the family. We have not one but two Air Force members now.”


Photo Courtesy of JOHN NORMILE
Mike and Jamie Mangan with Rex outside their farm in Smethport Pennsylvania on August 4. Jamie and Rex were a team in Iraq where Jamie was gravely injured by an IED in 2005. Mike Mangan was the first medic on the scene and saved her life, and they eventually were married.

BUDDING ROMANCE

Home from his deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq, Mike, 47, read about Jaime’s battle to bring Rex home and instantly recognized her face.

By then, Jaime was back at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. One of Mike’s friends, an officer at the base, sent pictures of the ceremony when she received the Purple Heart. The friend encouraged him to call her.

He did.

“I started off saying, ‘I want to apologize ahead of time if this upsets you, but my name is Mike and I was the flight medic the day you were wounded,’” he recalled.

“Then there was just silence and I was like, ‘Man, I stepped on it.’”

Stunned, Jaime eventually explained that she was trying to piece together exactly what happened after the IED exploded. She had no coherent memories for a month after the blast occurred. She and Mike talked for 45 minutes.

“She ended the conversation saying, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’ I just said, ‘Don’t say that to me on the telephone. I want to meet you,’” Mike said.

The two spoke on the phone and e-mailed for three months before Mike — who was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — took a trip to Peterson in August 2006.

“It was great that I got to say thank you,” she said. “I also got to fill in some voids and, at the same time, I felt the need to get to know him.”

MEDICALLY RETIRED

Jaime, 29, had dreamed of becoming a veterinarian after her service, but when she returned to school, it was impossible for her to concentrate on coursework or study for tests.

“I used to be a straight-A student, but now I can’t learn new things or remember formulas,” she said.

The IED had left her with traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq war.

She has the classic symptoms: memory loss, migraine headaches, difficulty concentrating and violent mood swings.

“In the beginning, you would call her and she would never call you back just because she could never remember,” said Staff Sgt. Tony Davis, a former co-worker.

Jaime still suffers excruciating pain that makes it hard to walk and to sleep at night, she said.

The jagged scars on her chest serve as a reminder of the multiple surgeries she endured. Doctors removed her spleen and fused her spine to the inside of her pelvis after the attack.

Jaime said it’s unlikely she’ll be able to have children.

She wanted to remain in uniform, but her injuries forced her to medically retire as a technical sergeant.

“Leaving the Air Force was real difficult for her,” Himes said.

REUNION

Mike flew to Peterson for Jaime’s retirement ceremony, and the two began dating.

Jaime moved back East to her hometown of Smethport, Pa., to be closer to her family.

Mike retired from the Army in June 2007 as a first sergeant after 26 years and moved to Pennsylvania, where he works at the local hospital as a registered nurse.

Four months after they started dating, the two got married in a small ceremony in November 2006.

“I think Mike would have liked to have had a bigger wedding, but I just couldn’t handle it, and he understood that,” Jaime said.

Mike and Jaime lean on each other for support.

“There are good days and bad days,” he said. “There are days she is in so much pain she can’t even sleep and there are times her mind isn’t in the same ZIP code … but at least I know the source of the pain and it’s easier when you are both dealing with it,” Mike said.

Jaime now investigates child abuse cases as a social worker for the McKean County Children and Youth Services Agency.

She also volunteers as an emergency medical technician for the Hamlin Township fire department, where her father is the chief.

But what Jaime says she finds most therapeutic is working with Rex and taking care of her five horses.

“It’s mentally relaxing just brushing them,” she said. The horses “don’t judge you or demand anything from you. I just can’t connect with people anymore, it’s too stressful.”

However, Jaime says she could soon lose those horses because she won’t be able to afford them. The Veterans Affairs Department recently reduced her disability rating from 100 percent to 70 percent, following a medical re-examination. That cut her monthly disability payment from $2,500 to $1,100.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Mike Parker, who helps service members navigate the VA process, said it’s not uncommon for ratings to drop as a patient gets better.

But, Mike said he finds it difficult to understand.

“I don’t look at it as critical income, but for you to give up your organs like that, and then someone says it’s not worth that compensation anymore. Geez.”

Losing those organs isn’t what bothers Jaime the most, though. It’s her luck.

The hardest part of her recovery has been thinking of the more than 1,800 service members who have died from IED blasts.

“I have a hard time with the fact that I survived,” she said. “Maybe [Mike] should have just walked away. There are so many soldiers who have died that have kids and had families.

“I don’t have kids. I don’t have anyone that needed me there. I just wish I could have taken somebody else’s place.”

Heroic dog remembered after serving 10 years

Posted in fallen dogs, Military Working Dogs, Miscellaneous, police dog teams, police dogs, Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine

 

 

By Dennis Yohnka 
The Daily Journal correspondent in Illinois
dyohnka@daily-journal.com

Lorraine Spaeth tried her best to prepare for Monday. The sunless, rainy weather seemed perfect for the task at hand. She wanted to say goodbye with compassion, but hoped to avoid the overflow of emotion that some consider wasted on animals.

This day would mark her last hours with her dog, Kelsey. And her first hours of adjusting to life without her. They weren’t just companions. They were co-workers, partners for 10 years.    As longtime members of the Manteno Fire Department and the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department Canine Search Team, it was Lorraine and Kelsey’s duty to help bring closure to families with missing loved ones. The 13-year-old German shepherd made three “live finds” in her career, but her specialty was locating the lifeless bodies that stymied police investigations.

Monday, the process of closure began for Kelsey.

Spaeth, her veterinarian and a few friends said their last goodbyes, before this honored public servant was euthanized. Her body was taken for cremation at the Wolfe Whispering Winds pet crematory in Chebanse. Services there were donated out of respect for Kelsey’s service.

Kelsey shows her love for kittens.(photo courtesy of The Daily Journal)

On Tuesday, the ashes were spread in a private location where Kelsey once trained and played. Yes, even working dogs have some time for play.

“She was great on the job, but she was just as good as a companion,” Lorraine said. “She had cancer four years ago and we got her through that. She didn’t work much toward the end. She was more of my lap dog then.”

Kelsey started having seizures earlier this year; and as they became more commonplace and more stressful for the dog, the decision was made to end her fear and discomfort.

Lorraine described Kelsey as a good traveler, and they took on missing persons cases in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. Kelsey was responsible for the discovery of 10 bodies in the Kankakee area. But Lorraine is more comfortable recalling the living subjects.

“There was a fugitive once in a cornfield. I didn’t know it, but Kelsey did. She started barking and wanting to go in the field,” Lorraine said. “I shouted out that the man had better come out or I was going to send the dog in — and that ‘cornfield’ started talking back to me right away.”

It was more often the case that Kelsey led her human friends to the remains of bodies, sometimes little more than the bones. Since her purchase from a Monee kennel, “The Kaiser’s Miss Kelsey Storm” (that’s her given name) was trained just for this sort of work.

In fact, her reputation was such that New York City officials requested Kelsey’s help in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She couldn’t make the trip, though. Lorraine was recovering from knee surgery at the time and couldn’t handle the duty.

“I guess I really sheltered her a lot,” Lorraine said of her friend. “I kept her away from the press. I didn’t want her distracted on the job. I didn’t let kids pet her if she was working. But I really think she was happy. She had a good life.”

Lorraine has retired from the Manteno Fire Department, but she is still active with the sheriff’s department team. After the private funeral services Monday afternoon, she expected to get back to training her fourth dog.

“There are just two important things that I want people to know about Kelsey,” Lorraine said outside the Manteno Fire Department offices. “They should know that we were part of a search team and that team goes on. Those volunteers are still out there. Still nonprofit. Still ready to serve.

“And the second thing is the appreciation I feel for Rod Wolfe (and the staff at the pet crematory). They donated their services out of respect for Kelsey’s service and I just think that’s very nice.”

With a steady shower still falling outside, Lorraine took time to go through some photos of her dog. And she remembered the more tender moments.

“We had a case — I think it was out by Limestone,” she said. “Kelsey came back from the field with a stray kitten and took it to the Red Cross tent. And then she went back to work.

“She always had a thing for kittens. She could take or leave dogs, but she loved kittens.”

Soldier, dog more than a team

Posted in Army Dog teams, military working dog handlers, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine

Great article here from The Mercury about military working dogs, specifically those at Fort Riley, Kansas. 

Paula Nardella, Fort Riley PAO-Article found in The Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas

It took Staff Sgt. Rico a few minutes to pinpoint the location of the C-4 explosive. Once he did, he alerted his team members to the potential threat by taking a seat. He was rewarded with a red chew toy, which he promptly chomped down on and then scratched the tattooed serial number on his ear.

  Rico is a bomb dog, and is handled by Sgt. Aaron Hill from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion.

Training
  Training for Rico and Hill typically begins around 5 a.m. and consists of problems to solve. The problems are hidden explosives that the dogs have to find. Explosives, such as C-4, normally are used, but when lightning strikes Fort Riley, the handlers use a chlorate kit, which gives off the same kind of, smell as other explosives, just not as strong.
  The task of planting the explosives goes to Staff Sgt. Lawson Wooten, who is the detachment’s training manager.
  ”I always tell them, ‘I’m planting like I’m trying to blow you up,”’ Wooten said.
  Wind also plays a part in the training. If the wind is blowing toward the dog, it can smell explosives sometimes from miles away. If the wind is blowing the wrong direction, however, the dog may not smell the explosive at all.
  ”Dogs have 220 million olfactory sensors in the nose, as opposed to our maybe 20 million,” Hill said.
  Future military working dogs are either purchased at around 1 year of age, or are bred from the puppy program. The puppy program is where breeders breed the puppies, and begin small steps of training as the puppy grows, with items such as tug toys.
  Most canines are typically retired around 10 to 12 years old, when their noses begin to get less sensitive to odors, such as the smell of explosives. After retirement, many of the dogs are adopted out and become house pets.
  Not all dogs find explosives, however. Some dogs are used to find narcotics, and other dogs are what are known as specialized search dogs. A new designation of dog is the combat tracker. Combat trackers are trained to start from an explosion’s detonation point and trace the scent of the person who set the explosive.
  ”They do all this for the love of their handler and the joy of that toy,” Wooten said.

Deployment
  When soldiers deploy with their dogs, not only does that soldier have to take his combat gear, but also all of the dog’s equipment. Water bowls, food dishes, collars, leashes, play toys and reward toys are just some of the things soldiers must take for their dogs. Dog handlers are sent to Kuwait with a two-man team to help with the gear.
  ”I had 14 pieces of luggage,” Hill said.
  During the deployment, the dog and the handler sometimes live in the same room, which strengthens the bond between human and dog.
  According to Hill, cold packs like medics carry are an invaluable tool for a dog handler in a hot climate. He discovereed this during a mid-day mission in Iraq, when Rico began showing signs of heat stress. Hill opened two of the packs and put them against Rico’s body where his arteries were located. This helped Rico cool off and avoid a heat stroke.

Buddies
  Hill said Rico is his best friend, and proves it by doing anything he can to make sure Rico is happy and healthy.
  He also hates to see Rico have to be sedated, like he was when he underwent a medical exam at Kansas State University to remove several cysts. A handler never really knows if their dog is going to come out of sedation, Hill said. One preventive action Hill takes to keep Rico from another sedation is brushing the dog’s teeth, he said.
  ”I can’t be away from him for more than five days, at the most,” Hill said.
  Rico is an independent dog, Hill said, and he worries that if he is gone too long, Rico will forget about him.
  Wooten said that emotions ”go down leash,” meaning that many times, the way a handler is feeling will affect their dog, and vice versa.
  Hill said that this ”down leash” idea is how Rico knows when he doesn’t feel well. When Hill is sick, he said, Rico doesn’t pull him as hard — unless there is a rabbit involved.
  Rico also knows when his handler is cold, and will curl up with Hill to share his body heat with him.

Saying goodbye
  ”I cried like a baby when I dropped my first dog,” said Spc. Timothy Connelly, a dog handler with the 97th MP Bn.
  Since bomb dogs are considered equipment that belongs to Fort Riley, unless they are deployed as a team, the dogs remain at Fort Riley no matter where their handlers go.
  ”When we get orders to go someplace else, you say your last goodbyes to your pup and hop on a plane,” Wooten said.
  Goodbyes also happen when a working dog retires or is euthanized. Upon retiring, many former military dogs can be adopted out. When medical problems arise, depending on the severity of the problem, there may be no choice except to put the dog down.
  ”That’s, I think, the worst part, when you have to put a dog down, especially a hard-working one,” Wooten said.
  Hill agreed, and told the story of a dog he worked with who had to be euthanized.
  ”I took him in and I was loving on him. They gave him the first shot to calm him down and put him into a sleep, and then they gave him the other one. I’m laying on him, and I can feel his heart beating and he’s breathing and I’m rubbing him, playing with him and then she gave him that other shot, which euthanized him. His chest didn’t rise and fall, his heart quit beating, and they literally had to pull me off of that dog, cause I just bawled,” he said.
  Hill had the dog cremated, and Marco now stays at home with Hill in a mahogany box.
  Wooten remembered he had a dog for three months and then found out the dog was going blind.
  ”They had to calm me down, because I new what that meant,” he said.

Dog tales from down range
    ”We’ve done air assaults,” Hill said. When doing an air assault with a dog, the dog gets attached to the handler and they go down the rope together. According to Hill, the problem is that since dogs don’t have opposable thumbs and can’t slide down the rope themselves, they have to be pushed out of the plane or helicopter and then followed by their handler.
  ”I was lucky I didn’t fall off the rope and die,” said Hill, laughing as he remembered Rico thrashing below him.
  Wooten remembered when Hill and Rico first redeployed to Fort Riley in December after serving in Iraq. On the return trip to the United States, Rico’s crate got broken due to cold weather. Since Wooten didn’t know about the broken crate, he brought a vehicle that did not have a built-in cage, and had to ride to the kennels by himself with Rico who sat in the back of the Explorer.
  ”I remember thinking, ‘Rico is going to eat me,” Wooten said.