WASHINGTON — Handlers of U.S. military dogs in Iraq recently started a mobile blood bank for their four-legged partners, according to the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve (Operation Inherent Resolve).
In a tweet posted last week, the Department of Defense's joint task force explained that the new blood bank allows for the rapid treatment of military dogs that are injured.
The mission of Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat "ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and sets conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability," according to its website. In a report from the joint task force in 2019, it said its military dogs work side-by-side with their handlers to help search cars and identify improvised explosive devices throughout Iraq and Syria.
The dogs help service members identify the presence of "explosives designed to cause disruption to operations," the report said.
The U.S. Army said military dogs are like humans and can only receive certain blood types, so having a blood bank ready helps treat K-9s efficiently.
The canine blood bank was started after the Army Medical Command surgeon general’s office required the military's veterinarians to record blood types for all working dogs, Army Col. Wayne Marotto told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. He said personnel has set up the response capabilities to make sure animals also receive "the highest level of emergency care."
The military has relied on "walking blood banks" for human casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, where prescreened donors can be called up if there's an immediate need for blood in remote or deployed environments.
The canine-version of this would be used for dogs like Conan, a Belgian Malinois, that played a role in the raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was injured when he was exposed to electric wires in the October 2019 raid. Conan has since recovered and received an award from President Donald Trump.
In June 2020, an Air Force working dog Cvoky was rushed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, with a heat-related injury, according to the U.S. Army. The 120-pound Belgian Malinois needed a blood transfusion as a treatment for his injuries, and luckily it was available when they arrived at the camp.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.