War Dogs Honored As Veterans

A small group gathered at the Gulf Islands National Seashore for a special presentation on "Cat Island War Dogs."

From 1942 through 1943, the United States Army trained hundreds of dogs on Cat Island to be sent into active military duty as guard dogs, patrol dogs, and attack dogs in the fight against the Japanese in World War Two.

"Pet owners like you or me sent their dogs sent their dogs, donated their dogs to the Army to be used basically as soldiers and without any guarantee that they would get those dogs back," said national park ranger Adam Prato.

George Mitchell is a retired Army fire chief and says he never knew the war dog training program existed, but this information helps bring more clarity to some of the images he remembers from his childhood.

"I remember as a child during World War two, we did see dogs. And in New York in the early 40s , a coast guard dog stopped spies that came in because the Coast Guard would be patrolling. We actually used to hear explosions out on the sound," said Mitchell.

Cat Island was chosen because its tropical weather conditions were similar to those in the Pacific.

The national park services is in the process of buying Cat Island, and believes the history of the War Dog Training and Reception Center would be a good way to honor those veterans whose bark was as tough as their bite.