Holly Sutley, Tristan Sigler, Mallory Svoboda 3B 1/5/15
Animals played many different important roles throughout World War I. The most common animals used were dogs, horses, and pigeons. These three groups held a variety of jobs such as transportation, morale boosters, message carries, gas detectors and many more. Dogs were a vital part of the war effort. It is estimated that by 1918, Germany had
employed 30,000 dogs, Britain, France and Belgium over 20,000 and Italy 3,000. Many breeds were used in World War I but they were usually medium sized, intelligent and trainable breeds. One of the most well known war dogs was American Sergeant Stubby, who survived many gas attacks and became very sensitive to the smell of gas. With his sensitive dog nose, was able to detect gas much earlier than his human comrades and alert them in time, saving many lives. He was declared a war hero and awarded many medals for the lives he saved.
Besides Stubby, many other dogs saved lives in their various different jobs. For example, sentry dogs patrolled grounds with individual officers on a tight leash and were trained to growl or bark when they sensed an unknown presence on the camp or military base. Scout dogs worked with soldiers on foot by patrolling the terrain ahead of them and indicating quietly when they sensed an enemy presence. Casualty dogs, or “mercy” dogs, were equipped with medical supplies and would seek wounded soldiers on battlefields to let them use their supplies to revitalize themselves or accompany them in their dying moments. Messenger dogs were, as the name indicates, used to efficiently send messages back and forth between camps because human messengers were slow and easy targets. Mascot dogs were kept in the trenches with soldiers during battles to offer temporary comfort during these horrible war
experiences. These are only a few examples of the many jobs given to dogs during World
War I. These dogs saved countless lives and are true war heroes. Horses were an important form of combat and transportation throughout World War I.
At the start of the war in 1914 the British possessed a mere 25,000 horses. The War Office was assigned the task of amassing half a million horses for the war. The government began requisitioning horses and ponies from surrounding farm lands. Many families were very distraught over the loss of their horses, some because of their necessity around the farms others because of emotional attachment. The horses were transported to shipping ports and loaded onto large ships to be sent across the Channel to serve on the front line as either cavalry or beasts of burden. The death rate of horses was appallingly high due to exhaustion, shelling and front line charges. Many men who were part of the cavalry formed emotional attachments with their horses and suffered high mental stress over their death and became hardened over their loss. The supply of horses was in constant need of replenishment and it was estimated that about 1,000 horses were being shipped out of the U.S every day between
1914 and 1917. Horses were so important to the success of the U.S and British army’s that often times German saboteurs would attempt to poison the load of horses before being shipped off.
Horses were involved in the war's first military conflict involving Great Britain: