Lawmakers seek a day to honor heroes of a different breed
That date in 1942 was the official founding of the U.S. military's K-9 Corps, according to Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, the prime sponsor of House Bill 1451.
Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Rogers said, the role of dogs in domestic agencies has expanded, starting with the dogs that searched the rubble for survivors or remains in Manhattan and at the Pentagon. Some of those dogs later died from illnesses believed related to that work, she said.
"They save lives, they save time, and it's time to recognize them," she told the Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee at a hearing last Thursday.
Baldasaro told the Senate committee on Thursday that when Rogers first approached him, "I thought, 'You're off your rocker.'"
Then he thought about how often during his 22 years as a Marine he witnessed the courage of military dogs up close. He called Rogers right back and agreed to help.
The bill may turn out to be one of the least controversial pieces of legislation in New Hampshire this year. It passed with a unanimous House committee recommendation and a voice vote in the full House; the Senate committee on Thursday likewise voted "ought to pass," 4-0.
A canine handler for 14 of his 19 years with the state police, he spoke of the many times his "partner" saved his life, both on patrol and when tracking dangerous suspects.
Rep. Rollins told the Senate committee about the injured, stray female dog that his son and his fellow soldiers had adopted in Iraq; the dog saved their lives by alerting them to an ambush on two separate occasions, he said.
The night before he was killed in action, Justin Rollins looked for the platoon's dog and found her with a newborn litter of puppies. After his death, his family arranged for one of those puppies to be brought to New Hampshire.
Hero was among the dogs that appeared at the hearing on the bill in the House. Rogers obtained special permission to allow the dogs into the hearing room.
They work for Customs and Border Patrol as guard dogs; search for drugs and bombs; look for missing persons, escaped prisoners and human remains; search for victims trapped in building collapses and avalanches; and help fire investigators detect accelerants used to start arson fires, Sweeney said.
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