Thursday, September 18th, 2014

War dogs: pit bulls in the military

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WWI Pit Bull

Pit Bulls were America's mascot on WWI posters

“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.

 

 

 

 

Neutral but not afraid

American pit bull...not afraid!

 

“Sergeant Stubby”

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby the most decorated war dog

  • 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.
  • Awards:
    • 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

 

Sergeant Stubby with medals

Sergeant Stubby with his medals

  

“Jack Brutus”

Jack Brutus

Jack Brutus during the Spanish-American war

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

“Sallie”

  • 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.

 

Sallie

Sallie's memorial in Gettysburg

 

 “Jack”  

Jack pit bull

Jack was the only dog to be traded as a prisoner of war.

  • 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.

 

“Old Harvey”

Old Harvey

Old Harvey had a great love of music.

  • 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.

 

Modern Times:

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:

Camp Sevier Danger the pit

Camp Sevier Danger the pit

 

Togo

Togo 6th Regimen Nebraska

 

WWII soldiers and pit bulls

WWII soldiers and pit bulls

 

Resources: 

http://whatapittie.org/proud-history-pitbull.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergeant_Stubby

http://defendpitbulls.com/sergeant-stubby/

Comments

9 Responses to “War dogs: pit bulls in the military”
  1. Enjoyed seeing these remarkable dogs remembered, especially the faithful dogs of the Civil War!

  2. Pitbulllovinnavywife says:

    What an amazing sight to see these decorated war heros. As a pit bull owner and navy wife I am torn on how to keep my family together. My husband is begging me to move to IL now, and I won’t leave my dog, my daughter. He says he feels like he is in a competition he will not win, I had my girl before I even met him. How are we to keep the morale up of our sailors if our morale is heart broken being asked to tear up our family?? Any breed can be a bully breed. It is all in how they are raised, and my girl was raised as a child. I think poodles are more vicious if you want my opinion. Lol. I think congress need to stop and look at the big picture and punish the owners and not the breed.

    • admin says:

      I can’t believe that the military has banned it’s former mascot. I wish you and your family luck in getting around this issue. I also applaud you for standing by your dog and not just abandoning her!

    • People needs to be educated about this breed. Especially the PEOPLE, who think these are killer dogs. Let me rephrase this to the people who are only going by what they are told. If you have not owned a pitty then you don’t need to pass these idiotic laws. Let a pitty go and stay in the white house for a week. I bet $ that you will change your mind on these sweet sweet dogs. Why are you punishing the breed? I don’t understand. Punish the idits who are making these precious dogs fight. Do you really think pitty’s want to fight? NO. If you look into there eyes they are begging for us humans (who are to protect) for our help. They don’t like to be chewed up and thrown away like a piece of garbage. Please people get your priority straight. They were our WAR HEROS ! What the hell happened with you all…. Just cuz those low life stupid boys fights these dogs you have to brand them all as killers. Your just down right wrong.  WRONG. God put the most loyal sweet loving dog who will protect you with there life.. Best babysitter ever. Have you ever heard a child be kidnapped with a pit or rotti around.. No and you never will. So, all you uneducated people out there that speaks and banned this breed please go and educate yourself. You will change you mind. This is why god put them here is for us to love and protect and for them to love and protect us.

      • People needs to be educated about this breed. Especially the PEOPLE, who think these are killer dogs. Let me rephrase this to the people who are only going by what they are told. If you have not owned a pitty then you don’t need to pass these idiotic laws. Let a pitty go and stay in the white house for a week. I bet $ that you will change your mind on these sweet sweet dogs. Why are you punishing the breed? I don’t understand. Punish the idiots who are making these precious dogs fight. Do you really think pitty’s want to fight? NO. If you look into there eyes they are begging for us hans (who are to protect) for our help. They don’t like to be chewed up and thrown away like a piece of garbage. They have feelings just like us. They bleed, hurt, cry just like us. Please people get your priority straight. They were our WAR HEROES ! What the hell happened with you all…. Just cuz those low life stupid boys fights these dogs you have to brand them all as killers. Your just down right wrong.  WRONG. God put the most loyal sweet loving dog who will protect you with there life.. Best babysitter ever. Have you ever heard a child be kidnapped with a pit or rotti around.. No and you never will. So, all you uneducated people out there that speaks and banned this breed please go and educate yourself. You will change your mind. This is why god put them here is for us to love and protect and for them to love and protect us. I want a Pitt by my side and nothing else. They are my best friend…

  3. Hello,

    My name is Emily Broussard and I am a resident in Harvest, AL. On Saturday, April 20th, my neighbor, Ray Cyree of 324 Mylo Circle, shot and killed our dog right in front of me and my husband. There was a previous incident where our dogs got into a fight which I was served papers for them taking me to court over their vet bills. Their dog is perfectly fine now. We bought a $300 kennel to resolve any issues going forward and as we were walking our dogs to the kennel, they let their dog out at the same time. All the dogs rushed to the fence and started barking at each other, then, our dog went under the fence. I am not sure why he came outside with a rifle to begin with, but he said, “You better get your dog, I’m gonna kill it.” He fired 3 shots in her direction and not two minutes later, as we were calling her back-trying to get her without going on their property, she was running back to my husband, and he shot and killed her with his fourth shot. She wasn’t being aggressive or hurting anything at all. The police did come and said they didn’t think he did it out of spite from the previous incident, but after he shot Summer, Ray said, “Yea, I killed your dog, your dog almost killed my dog last time, and now I have $1500-$2000 in vet bills.” This was spite, he wanted revenge. Since we live in the “county” nothing happened even though he was firing shots within 10-20 feet of my husband. I have a two year old and four year old and now we aren’t even comfortable allowing them to play in the back yard. We still have to go to court over the first incident, but I think watching our dog being executed was payment enough. Although we are in the county, someone should not be allowed to be shooting in a residential neighborhood where little kids live. We are not anti-gun as we own guns also, but we know how to be responsible.

    If you have any questions, please call me at 256-617-1690.

    Thank you,

  4. Marcia Walker says:

    I found these stories so fascinating, and I will certainly support this site, and share it with those that have no idea about the history associated with these dogs. It’s about time we all recognized these dogs for their service and loyalty.

  5. Helen Jacobson says:

    I have owned my dog PeTeY for 3 years now. I rescued him from the los pound. In all reality he rescued me. He bring me the most loyal unconditional love He is white with some black spots and has a black ring around his eye. His looks and friendly demeanor has caused him to be very popular in the neighborhood.
    From historical articles such as this one , we see that the pitbull was acknowledged for its loyalty and loving nature. Now, today the perception has changed due to the fighting this breed brought on by humans with with extremely poor judgement. Now this breed is no longer recognized as the fine creatured they truly are.

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