February 2, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

An article in the Oregon Statesman describes the use of trained dogs to find wounded soldiers:

DOGS POPULAR AT THE FRONT
Trained Animals Are Unsurpassed for Finding Wounded

Field Marshall von Hindenburg, having heard of the excellent work of the ambulance dogs in the west, has applied for a number for use in Russia, and 250 have been sent to him.

Some 500 dogs have been at work in the west, where each of the German sanitary companies have had four dogs attached to it, and the authorities here have decided to double their number, but apparently the east has been neglected.

The breed used is the German shepherd dog; and a considerable period of training is required before the animals are fit for work on the battlefield. There is a special organization, the German Society for Sanitary dogs, having charge of breeding and training the animals, and this body is just now appealing to the public for contributions toward carryon its work.

One Man’s Experience

Letters from soldiers and sanitary officers give eloquent testimony to the excellent services of the dogs in finding the wounded. a pioneer at Boon dictated the following:

“On October 24th I was wounded in the thigh at ____ and took refuge, together with several other wounded comrades, in a cellar on a farm. But either the inhabitants or other Frenchmen barred us in and then turned water into the cellar, so that there was no way for us to get out. For three days we stood in water up to the breast, without food, and had given up all hope of rescue. Then suddenly I heard the snuffling of a dog, and we were soon very happy to see him poke his black head into the bull’s eye window of the cellar.

“A wounded lieutenant of our party tore out the lining from his cap and stuck it in the dog’s collar band. Several hours later sanitary officers with pioneers came, one of them leading the dog by a line, and they liberated us from our hopeless imprisonment. The dog leaped up with joy before the lieutenant. I am firmly convinced that we should all have perished in the cellar but for this dog.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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