Keesler Air Force Base honors National K9 Veterans Day

Meet some service member and their handlers.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 7:05 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Monday, March 13th, is National K9 Veteran’s Day. It’s a time to honor the four-legged unsung heroes of countless military operations.

K9s selflessly put their lives on the line without a second thought. It’s a level of dedication that warrants a national day of recognition.

“They work hard every day. There’s not a day they’re not happy to show up at work. They’re ready to go at any second, any moment,” said Keesler Air Force Base K9 handler Staff Sergeant Anthony Seretis.

Keesler Air Force Base honored K9s with a 5k Ruck March. At 7 a.m., service members gathered outside the base’s K9 facility. Handlers from the Naval Construction Battalion Center and Harrison County Sheriff’s Office also participated in the run.

“We’re just really out here to honor what our military working dogs do for us every day,” said Tech Sergeant Collin Lewis, KAFB’s K9 Kennel Master.

With seven years of experience handling working dogs, he knows exactly how much these fury service members need to be honored for their service and sacrifice.

“These dogs don’t get the representation that they deserve. I think it’s really important to show a spot light and show how they support us. They save lives every day. They can be the difference between us going home. They’re full of sacrifice for us,” he said.

After the run, K9 handlers demonstrated the warrior capabilities of their partners. These dogs are lovingly referred to as “fur missiles” for a reason.

“I’ve been a military working dog handler for about four and a half years and I’ve loved every moment of it. I’ve had the privilege of working with five dogs,” said SSgt. Seretis, who played the bad guy in the demonstrations by wearing a suit and allowing the K9s to attack him.

It’s a rough job, but he regularly volunteers for it because he knows this type of training is crucial for potentially deadly encounters.

“They put their lives on the line in dangerous situations to protect yourself and work for that Kong and to celebrate at the end of the day knowing that, ‘hey dad, our training went well and we saved everyone.’ You must have a strong bond with the dog in order to get the best result in what you’re trying to achieve. Your dog knows you best and your dog knows you best. No one knows the dog better than you,” he said.

Senior Airman Tessa Spare has worked as a K9 handled on base for a year. She helmed the speech for the K9 Veteran’s Day program and told WLOX News about a key difference in working with people versus dogs.

“You work with your human partner, you can work with them every day, you can talk to them, but a person doesn’t trust you as much as a dog,” she said. “That dog relies on you to feed them, bathe them, groom them, take care of them. You’re kind of like their life line.”

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