New Delhi: This Republic Day, Indian Army dogs will put their best foot forward.
After a gap of 26 years, Indian Army dogs, who have saved the lives of numerous soldiers in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, will march down the Rajpath for Republic Day Parade on January 26.
The Army, which has about 1,200 Labradors and German Shepherds, have selected 36 canines to march down the Rajpath with their handlers.
Sources said the marching of the canine squad at the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath will be after a gap of 26 years.
Mansi, a four-year-old Labrador, and her Kashmiri master Bashir Ahmed War from the Territorial Army (TA) had made the country proud when they made the supreme sacrifice while gallantly fighting a group of heavily-armed infiltrators in the high altitude area along the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector in August last year.
A war dog training school was raised on March 1, 1960 at Meerut.
Basic and advance training to dogs and their trainers on specialised jobs like explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding and assaulting is imparted at the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College.
The Army dogs and their trainers of this Corps have won one Shourya Chakra, six Sena Medals, 142 COAS Commendation Cards, six VCOAS Commendation Cards and 448 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards.
The motto of the Corps is 'Pashu Seva Ashmakam Dharm'. The Army had come under severe criticism from the common people and dog lovers across the world after it was revealed in an RTI reply last year that dogs, horses and mules are put to sleep after their retirement.
Following a PIL, the government had in September informed the Delhi High Court that it would come out with a policy on the issue within six months. Though a final policy is yet to be adopted, the Army has stopped further killing of ageing animals, except for those suffering incurable, terminal diseases and injuries.
The development came at a time when many countries, including the US and France, have special rehabilitation schemes for military dogs. The gallantry medal was awarded to a police dog killed after the Paris attacks last year.
The Indian Army dogs are trained in sniffing bombs, hunting down enemies, locating secret places and fetching evidence. The Army generally uses Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, depending on the altitude and weather, besides the nature of assignment which may include routine patrol to explosives detection.
(With PTI inputs)