American Humane’s Lois Pope K-9 Medals of Courage
A fearless Black Lab who uncovered IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq; a pound puppy who became a Specialized Search Dog and saved countless lives during his 210 combat missions; a Chocolate Lab who protected our troops and survived deadly ambushes by the Taliban; a four-footed warrior who was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and safeguarded 26,000 U.S. servicemembers; and a brave Explosive Detection Dog who served overseas on the frontlines of the War on Terror and now protects Americans on the home front, have all been chosen as the 2017 recipients of American Humane’s Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage. The awards, presented at a Capitol Hill, are the nation’s highest honor for military dogs for extraordinary valor and service to America.
Meet 2017’s medal winners:
Military Working Dog Coffee
Coffee, a Chocolate Lab, started and ended her military career at U.S. Army Sergeant First Class James Bennett’s side. The two became partners almost a decade ago, when Coffee entered training at Lackland Air Force Base in 2006, where she learned to become a specialized explosives-detection dog.
Coffee and SFC Bennett served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, working together to locate lethal bombs and other security threats. Coffee faced full-on attacks and deadly ambushes by the Taliban, but she refused to waver and never failed to bring home all of the soldiers she was sent to protect. Coffee, now 13, retired in December 2016, concluding nine and a half years of military service. SFC Bennett adopted Coffee when she retired.
Explosive Detection Dog Alphie
Alphie worked under some of the most dangerous conditions during his two tours in Afghanistan, entering and clearing villages for IEDs, making vital finds of weapons and communications equipment, and working with our warriors to surprise the Taliban and take out processing plants for illegal narcotics used to finance the war against our troops. Alpine and his handler at the time, Marine Lance Corporal William Herron, served in Helmand Province, one of the most perilous areas in the country, and Alphie had his share of close calls. This heroic Black Lab, now seven years old, retired from military service in 2014. Today, Alphie works as a member of the TSA’s elite Canine Explosives Detection Program with his partner and TSA handler, Lesley Runnels.
Military Working Dog Capa
Now retired 10-year-old Capa has been awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal for meritorious service, was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Japan while serving as an explosives/patrol working dog, and was tasked to provide security for four missions protecting the President of the United States, another protecting the First Lady, and yet another helping safeguard the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Capa protected thousands of American troops during his nine years of Navy service as a highly trained explosives-detection dog. Capa’s lifesaving contributions were essential in providing safety and security for a fleet of a dozen U.S. Naval ships and 26,000 personnel, including his handler, U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms Second Class Megan Wooster.
Military Working Dog Ranger
Ranger saved uncounted lives—and risked his own—in service to our country. The eight-year-old Black Lab bravely served in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he worked as an explosives-detection dog specializing in improvised explosive devices, or IEDS—the leading cause of death of American and allied troops in the War on Terror.
While working, Ranger suffered heat stroke and retired from military service in 2012. Kirk Adams, a retired police sergeant, and his wife adopted Ranger.
Military Working Dog Gabe (in memoriam)
Gabe was a life-saving Specialized Search Dog who served our country by completing more than 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, saving countless American soldiers’ lives on the battlefield. He passed away in the arms of his adopted dad, Army SFC Chuck Shuck (Ret.), in February 2013.
Gabe was a pound puppy languishing in a Houston, Texas, animal shelter when he was adopted and trained by the United States Military. Proving that adoption saves lives, Gabe began his service as a Specialized Search Dog for the United States Army in 2006, and after three years of active duty, retired in 2009, having earned more than 40 awards and coins of excellence. He was selected as the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008 and won the top title of American Hero Dog at the annual national American Humane Hero Dog Awards ™ in 2012.
Source: American Humane