We thank you for your service and keeping us safe!
Valencia, CA— Saturday, March 13, 2021 — Today, on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, Animal Behavior College (ABC) posted a salute video honoring K9 Veterans and their handlers in celebration of K9 Veterans Day.
It is not widely known, but March 13th is K9 Veterans Day, and ABC wants to bring recognition and appreciation to the much deserving K9s and their handlers working to protect our country. To honor them, ABC will be featuring a salute video of some courageous military working K9s on our social media pages on Saturday, March 13th. Check it out on the official ABC Facebook, ABC Instagram, or ABC Twitter profiles, and make sure to show your support for our K9 veterans by sharing your stories of any K9 veterans that you know and love.
ABC would like to introduce you to two of the K9 heroes they will salute and honor: Zso Zso and Ppuritan. Both K9s and their handlers are from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Zso Zso is a male German Shephard that has been in the K9 Unit for 3 years now. Technical Sergeant Matthew Erfman II, US Air Force, was his handler for two and a half years before his promotion and is now the Kennel Master. They were teamed up straight out of their respective training courses despite finishing training separately. TSgt Erfman was Zso Zso’s first handler and Zso Zso was his first ever working dog.
Together they supported multiple US Sec ret Service Missions and even covered the 2018 United Nations General Assembly in New York City. They were also deployed overseas in the Middle East and won the 2020 502 Special Forces Group Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award.
Ppuritan is a male Belgian Malinois that has been in the K9 Unit for 2 years and is partnered up with his handler, Staff Sergeant Jacob Howard. This team was hand selected for over 20 US Special Services Missions, securing the President, Vice President, and their families. They were awarded the Defender of the Month and Top Dog in 2020. Ppuritan is part of the Department of Defense breeding program. He was born and raised at Lackland Air Force Base, and he will continue to be bred for future Military Working Dogs (MWD). Ppuritan and his handler are currently deployed in the Middle East.
To become a part of the K9 Unit, the dogs must undergo an extensive amount of training. The first focus is on detection skills. This process takes about 60 days and the dog must qualify before moving on to patrol training for another 45-60 days. Once certified, they will then move on to their station and work with their handler for an additional 90 days. All of this helps ensure quality training and fosters the development of a strong canine-human partnership. The handler also goes through an 11-week operational military training before coming to their station to train with their K9 partner.
The most common misconception about K9 handlers is that they get to “play” with their dogs all day. Although they do get to have some play time for team building, there is a great deal of hard work and dedication to not only build a strong team, but to maintain a high level of training. Unlike the Police K9 units, who take their partners home for the night, MWD are kenneled on base for security and it is up to the handlers to take care of them and the kennels, including kennel checks on weekends to ensure the dogs are safe. In a typical day for the K9 Unit, handlers must conduct a required amount of search time, execute patrols, and train in endurance and cardio. Both the K9 and the handler are in constant training mode, keeping them on their toes and paws for missions and deployment. The main objective for the deployed K9 Unit varies on what the mission is. MWD’s are utilized for a variety of important tasks. This includes being part of narcotic detection teams and bomb squads.
K9 Units are a vital part to the military and were officially recognized on March 13th, 1942. Because of their detection capabilities, listening and seeing skills, the military can secure scenes and perimeters, detect bombs to protect military teams and help stop drug trafficking.
ABC is proud to honor and salute all of the K9s and their handlers that have served our nation. Thank you for your service!
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