Honoring the Coast Guard’s K-9 History

Coast Guard WWII photo
Coast Guard WWII photo, credit: National Archives

We honor the tremendous history and dedication of our Coast Guard dog teams.

In 1942, Dogs For Defense procured and trained America’s early K-9s to work alongside Coast Guard handlers patrolling American beaches. Guarding the coasts became a critical need as Nazi and Japanese submarines prowled the waters off both shores.

While not widely known, subs began attacking American commercial shipping. One night, off the Outer Banks, but visible from the village of Avon on Ocracoke, a German U-boat torpedoed the City of Atlanta, sinking the vessel and killing nearly everyone aboard. The Germans continued to bring down other merchant ships throughout the night.

A bit further south, the U-123, a German submarine, blasted two oil tankers off the coast of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Another ship, the SS Esparta, sank the next day, torpedoed by that same sub.

War turned up at our shores.

In response, Coast Guardsmen received war dogs to assist them with patrols, particularly along stretches of undeveloped land. They kept watch on activities off-shore as well as monitoring any suspicious activities reported onshore.

Our Coast Guard continues to answer new challenges to America’s security. Evolving and ever-flexible, they live and breathe their motto: Semper Paratus ~ Always Ready.