The combat dog who was wounded after he helped track down the world’s most wanted terrorist is being hailed as an American hero, but a handler said the dog was just doing what he was trained to do.
His name is still classified, but President Trump on Monday tweeted a photo of the dog who worked with a team of Special Forces to corner the head of the Islamic State in a tunnel beneath a compound in northeastern Syria, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi set off an explosion that killed him and three children and apparently wounded the dog.
“We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!” Trump tweeted Monday. “A VERY GOOD BOY!”
We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! pic.twitter.com/PDMx9nZWvw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2019
Joint chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters the dog “performed a tremendous service” in the Saturday night raid and was “slightly wounded” but is now recovering and has returned to duty at an undisclosed location.
The U.S. is protecting the dog’s identity by keeping any information about the canine classified for now, Milley said.
The dog — possibly a Belgian Malinois or Malinois-shepherd mix — has some dog lovers on Twitter demanding “he gets a medal too!”
Another comment has also generated a lot of re-tweets: “They are definitely a first responder. Always the first one in a potential bad situation.”
Peter McClelland, a former K-9 handler for the Yarmouth Police Department for 29 years, sees him as “a highly skilled military dog who’s trained to be an asset.”
“They don’t think about how dangerous the situation is,” McClelland said. “They just do what they’re trained to do. They’re workaholics. That’s a great tool to have as a police or military handler.”
The U.S. military commonly uses the Malinois to guide and protect troops, search out enemy forces and look for explosives. The breed is prized by the military for its intelligence and ability to be aggressive on command, said Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association.
“That’s the kind of dog you want to lead a patrol like this,” said Aiello, a former Marine dog handler whose organization helps active-duty and retired military dogs. “They are the first line of defense.”
— Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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