An Israeli dog unit took down ten Hamas terrorists and rescued more than 200 Israelis, according to an Israel Defense Force (IDF) spokesman. The spokesman said K-9 units had “rescued hostages, saved lives, and eliminated terrorists who had barricaded themselves in houses.”
In one example, a dog named Naro alerted IDF troops to the presence of a Hamas ambush, allowing them to mount their own surprise attack on the hiding terrorists. Another Hamas member was taken down by a dog named Charlie, who detained him until IDF troops could take over. The dogs will join the elite Israeli military as it takes its next step – a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The IDF says its K-9 units consist of “specially trained dogs for missions in the field of counterterrorism, search and rescue, and other specific purposes.”
Israeli Defense Force dogs work primarily with a unit known as Oketz, or “Sting.” Dog and soldier train together and form a bond that cements the trust between them as they undergo often perilous operations. The animals are mainly used for bomb disposal, preventing drug and weapons smuggling, and warning troops of impending dangers. The IDF says their dogs save countless lives every year and describes them as a “soldier’s best friend.”
Dogs have also significantly contributed to America’s defenses since the first US Army K-9 unit was established in 1942. Around 1,600 canines are serving the US military and go wherever American troops go. The Department of Defense selects its animals from some of the world’s most experienced breeders, but around 13% are bred internally through the Military Working Dog Breeding Program – or the “puppy program” as it is also known.
When they’re old enough, US military dogs undergo an intensive 120-day training program where they are taught to uncover explosives or drugs. Some dogs are assigned to rare and specific roles, and training can involve parachuting from aircraft with their best friend.