SAN LUIS, Colo. (CBS4)- War dogs have been getting a lot of attention following the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and their importance is crucial.
“They’re considered a member of the team,” said Close Quarter Battle K-9 School owner Alex Dunbar.
Dunbar trains German Shepards from Slovakian blood for the military, police forces, and for personal protection. His training site is in southern Colorado, just south of the small town of San Luis.
“It’s almost the same topography and elevation as Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Dunbar, who is also an ex-Marine.
When SEAL Team 6 raided Bin Laden’s compound, they had a dog with them.
These dogs are trained to wear breathable body armor to protect from attacks and shrapnel. They are also outfitted with a camera on their head to stream live video to soldiers in other positions.
Dunbar says the dogs are the first to go in to an unknown situation. The animals may be looking for bombs, booby traps, or their target. He thinks there’s a good chance Bin Laden first came eye-to-eye with a canine.
Dunbar said training is conducted day and night, including tracking, intelligence work, and drills to build strength and endurance. A dog trained for the military needs to be able to swim, parachute out of a plane with a soldier, keep calm, and be quiet.
One of Dunbar’s dogs had a titanium tooth, something he says gives the dog extra grip, and packs more of a punch.
“It’s like being crushed by a train. It’s just incredible how much pressure,” said Dunbar.
Titanium teeth are sometimes inserted into canines by military or police forces for medical reasons. One expert we spoke to said with all the bite work these dogs do, their teeth can wear down or break. Damage to teeth can affect their smell, which is just as important. Their ability to sniff out an explosive, or track a target can be invaluable.
Although the training is tough, Dunbar said his dogs probably eat better than most people. When they’re not doing missions or training, they’re also very docile. While the enemy might see them as machines of war, Dunbar sees them as man’s best friend.