In 1917, the British War Office launched a program to incorporate dogs into the military to serve as messengers, sentries, and guards. Dogs were pulled from the public sphere where their well-being was safeguarded under the Animal Protection Act of 1911 and placed directly under the control of the military. This paper examines the British Military’s war dog policies, their nutritional guidelines, general protocols, and the culture of care cultivated, in order to glean insight into the motivations responsible for improvements in the level of training, medical attention, and the care and treatment dogs received. This involved examining newspaper articles, memoirs of the founders of the war dogs program, and casualty reports posted by canine advocacy groups. It was found that the military’s impetus to treat dogs more humanely by improving the quality of care stemmed from the necessity for marital success rather than fulfilling a moral obligation.
Elizabeth Kohler is a senior history major and Kent State Stark. She plans on continuing into graduate school to obtain her masters and Ph.D. in history. When not working or occupied with school she enjoys showing and training dogs, reading, and kayaking.