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2012-11-15

War dog memorial to be unveiled soon

By Jon Woestendiek Courtesy of Ohmidog.com

The first national monument paying tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in two months before going on tour on the way to its final destination - Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The US Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor dogs that have served in combat since World War II.
While there are other sculpted memorials to military dogs, this one is the first to be proclaimed a national monument, according to the Associated Press.
The project was spearheaded by John Burnam, a 65-year-old veteran military dog handler and author of "Dog Tags of Courage" and "A Soldier's Best Friend."
It was a reader who suggested a monument, and Burnam saw that as an idea worth pushing.
"I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers," said Burnam, who received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In 2004, Burnam and two other veterans formed the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. In 2007, Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-NC, introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.
Burnam designed the monument, which depicts a handler and four dogs - a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois.
The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. The sculptor, Paula Slater, says she has spent thousands of hours on the project.
Primary funding for the project is being supplied by Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky treat sold by Petco. Maddie's Fund, a pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.
A floral replica of the sculpture, in the form of a float, will be part of the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, and among those riding on it will be Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch.
The monument will then go on temporary display next to the float at Victory Park. After that, it will hit the road, headed for Lackland Air Force Base, where most of the nation's military dogs are trained.