Service dogs will be honored Sunday
The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
CALLAWAY, Fla. - The fifth annual K-9 Veterans Day Memorial Service is sponsored by the Sheriff's Office, but that doesn't mean it's only for K-9 cops.
The event, which will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Veterans Park in Callaway, is an attempt to honor service dogs of all stripes. Or spots.
"It's basically to honor retired past working dogs," said Lt. Kevin Francis, who oversees the BCSO's K-9 unit and planned the annual event.
It doesn't matter if those dogs were sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan or helping blind people navigate their lives; the event is for dogs that serve humans, Francis said.
Dogs have served in combat for thousands of years, but the U.S. Army's K-9 Corps launched on March 13, 1942, Francis said. The date has since been designated K-9 Veterans Day.
Sunday's event will feature Maj. Tommy Ford of the BCSO as a guest speaker, and all the traditional trappings of a police ceremony, such as bagpipes and a shotgun salute, Francis said. Callaway Mayor Thomas Abbot will proclaim March 13 K-9 Veteran's Day, which is a key component of the event, Francis said.
In an effort to expand recognition of the service dogs provide to humans, Francis has moved the location of the event throughout the county over the years. Past events have been held in Panama City, Panama City Beach and Lynn Haven, and feature similar proclamations from the respective mayors, Francis said.
"We want everybody to recognize March 13 as Veterans Day, so starting with the city leaders is a good place to start," Francis said.
Numerous local civilian, military and law enforcement organizations have been invited to attend, Francis said.
IF YOU GO
-What: K-9 Veterans Day Memorial Service
-Where: Veterans Park, 5916 Cherry St., Callaway
-When: 1 p.m. Sunday
-Cost: Free and open to the public