Indian army dogs, who have saved the lives of numerous soldiers in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, will march down the Rajpath for Republic Day Parade on January 26.
It was back in 1990 that Indian Army’s dog squad made an appearance at the Republic Day parade and now after 26 years the canines are ready to put their best paw forward again.
The Army, which has about 1,200 Labradors and German Shepherds, have selected 36 canines for the parade along with their handlers.
Last year, a 4-old-year old Labrador, Mansi, and her Kashmiri master Bashir Ahmed War made headlines when the duo lost their lives while gallantly fighting a group of heavily-armed infiltrators in the high altitude area along the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector in August last year.
A school, especially designed to train war dogs, was first raised on March 1, 1960 at Meerut.
The dogs, along with their handlers have since then have received basic and advanced training on specialised jobs such as explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding and assaulting.
The training is imparted at the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College and their motto is ‘Pashu Seva Asmakam Dharm’.
Since its initiation, the Army dogs and their trainers have won many medals of honours including one Shourya Chakra, six Sena Medals, 142 COAS Commendation Cards, six VCOAS Commendation Cards and 448 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards.
However, the Army had come under severe criticism from the common people and dog lovers across the world after it was revealed in an RTI reply last year that dogs, horses and mules are put to sleep after their retirement.
Following the RTI reply, a PIL was sent to the Delhi High Court to which the government had replied that they would come up out with a policy regarding the issue in the next six months.
The period of six months ends in March this year, but since then the Army has stopped killing any ageing animal, except the ones who are suffering incurable, terminal diseases and injuries.
Though the concept of Dog squads is fairly new to India, in developed countries like the US and France, they are respected as much as any human soldier and they even have special rehabilitation schemes for military dogs.
The Indian dogs mainly consists of Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, depending on the altitude, weather and the assignment.
They are all trained in sniffing bombs, hunting down enemies, locating secret places and fetching evidence.