SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some of our toughest Marines have four legs. These military working dogs are trained and trusted to protect service members and civilians overseas and at home.
"The bond between handler and K-9 is indescribable. When I was assigned a dog, I could look at my dog and know what it needed before it could tell me, and vice versa," said Lt. Kristopher Evers, part of the military police force at Camp Pendleton.
All military dogs begin their journey at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, selected for their willingness to work. After basic training, they're sent to a new post and assigned a handler.
K-9's trained in the Military Working Dog Program at Camp Pendleton go on to either serve alongside military police on the base or in conflicts overseas.
The Marine Corps has nearly 300 working dogs; the entire military has about 2,700, according to the United States War Dogs Association, Inc.
Handlers use the Agility Course at Camp Pendleton to train K-9 Marines to perform outside their comfort zone, giving them the confidence to do the job.
Dogs are tasked with jobs like detecting explosives, narcotics, and apprehending suspects.
"Training is consistent, it's every day, and it's all the time," said Evers.
Evers says the dogs are very much Marines and an important part of their military family.
One of the most famous K-9 heroes is Lucca, remembered for leading 400 patrols with no human casualties on her watch. Lucca retired after losing her leg to an IED and passed away in 2018.
"They're special, in my mind, they're special. They love to work, they love coming to work, they love seeing their handler, they love getting in that patrol car, they love putting that collar on - and they're just always happy, these dogs live in the moment," said Evers.
You can send care packages to military K-9's and their handlers, learn more here.