War dogs: pit bulls in the military
“Neutral, but not afraid of any of them.” and “We’re not looking for trouble, but we’re ready for it.” These are the phrases that captioned US war posters featuring pit bulls. Throughout history pit bulls have been mascots for the American military. In the early twentieth century Pit Bulls were so respected for their loyalty, determination and bravery that they were chosen to represent America in WWI on posters used for recruitment and to sell war bonds.
- This pit bull is known as the most decorated war dog to have served the U.S. military.
- Served beside John Robert Conroy in the 102nd Infantry 26th Yankee division, during WWI, in the trenches in France.
- He entered combat on February 5, 1918.
- He warned his troops of incoming attacks.
- He captured a German spy all on his own.
- Was wounded in his foreleg, by a German hand grenade.
- Awarded the Purple Heart
- While recovering from injuries in the line of duty, he kept morale up among the injured soldiers and eventually returned to the trenches.
- After being gassed, Stubby began warning his unit of poison gas attacks.
- The first decorated canine war hero and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant.
- He was involved in 17 battles, and 4 offensives.
- After the battle for the French village of Domremy, the grateful women of the township fashioned a hand sewn chamois coat, to display Stubby’ s service chevrons, metals, pins and button.
- This became his recognized trademark, and is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum.
- Stubby was invited to the White house by three Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge.
- In 1921 John Conroy and Stubby headed to Georgetown to enroll in law school where he served several terms as mascot to the football team.
- Between halves, Stubby would nudge a football around the field with his nose, to the delight of the crowd.
- Until his death, in John Conroy’s arms, of old age, April 4, 1926, Stubby was a “True” American Pit Bull Terrier.
- 3 Service Stripes
- Yankee Division YD Patch
- French Medal Battle of Verdun
- 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal
- New Haven WW1 Veterans Medal
- Republic of France Grande War Medal
- St Michael Campaign Medal
- Wound Stripe, replaced with the Purple Heart when introduced in 1932
- Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal
- 6th Annual American Legion Convention
- Humane Education Society Gold Medal
- Served during the Spanish – American war.
- Official mascot for Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.
- “Old Jack” as he was known, and his unit, spent most of the war encamped at various places here in the states providing coastal defense from Maine to Virginia.
- Old Jack died of spinal troubles in 1898.
- Brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Regimental mascot for the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.
- Owner- 1st Lt. William R. Terry
- Sallie grew up among the men of the regiment since she was 4 weeks old.
- She followed them on marches and into battle.
- At the battle of Gettysburg, July 1st – July 3rd 1863, Sallie was separated from her unit. Unable to find her way, she returned to the Union battle line at Oak Ridge, where Sallie stood guard over the dead and wounded.
- Sallie continued her faithful service until February of 1865 when during the battle of Hatcher’s Run, Virginia, Sallie was struck in the head by a bullet and killed instantly.
- Sallie was buried on the battlefield while surrounded by enemy fire.
- In appreciation of her loyal devotion, a monument of Sallie now stands in Gettysburg, directly in front of the monument that commemorates the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry.
- Brown and white Bullie breed
- Understood bugle calls
- Was the mascot for the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry
- His career spanned through nearly all the regiment’s battles in Virginia and Maryland.
- He was present at the Wilderness campaigns, Spotsylvania, and the siege of Petersburg.
- Jack’s duty, was to seek out the dead and wounded of his regiment once the gunfire silenced.
- He was wounded severely at the battle of Malvern Hill.
- He was able to escape a capture by the confederate soldiers and survive the battle of Antietam in 1862, (in which 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded,).
- Jack was captured twice and became the only dog to be traded as a prisoner of war.
- During his second capture he was exchanged, according to war time protocol, for a Confederate soldier at Belle Isle.
- Jack disappeared shortly after being presented a silver collar purchased by his human comrades and was believed to be a victim of theft.
- Mascot for the 104th Ohio Infantry.
- Provided companionship and humor for the troops.
- Harvey would show his great love for music by swaying from side to side while the soldiers sang campfire songs in the evening.
- He was wounded in two different battles but, survived each time.
- Harvey’s tag read “I am Lieutenant D.N. Stearns’ Dog. Who’s Dog Are You?”
- The 104th had a portrait of Harvey commissioned so that he could still be part of their reunions after his death.
- Harvey is remembered by the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, where a portrait of the troop features a proud Harvey posing with his fellow soldiers.
Unfortunately, the Pentagon approved the new pet policy that banned pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Chows, and wolf hybrids from military housing. Air Force and Navy soon followed and the Marine Corps issued a worldwide breed ban policy. Although some of these policies allowed dogs already living on bases to be grandfathered in, many dogs were evicted by local enforcement.
As with most breed specific legislation, this policy was a reaction to dog attacks that took place on military bases. The dog attacks were rare and the result of human irresponsibility. Hopefully, the military will realize the rich history of pit bulls and bully breeds that served their country and will reverse the breed ban.
Other Famous War Pitties: