ESA has always demonstrated a strong commitment to our armed
forces as a way of saying thank you to those who put themselves in harm’s way
to safeguard our security. Last year, for example, ESX attendees pledged more
than $20,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project as part of ESA Gives Back, the
association’s charitable and philanthropic program.
This year, there’s a twist: ESA is turning its attention to
those who put themselves in harm’s way to safeguard our armed forces.
ESA Gives Back has selected the Warrior Dog Foundation, which was featured on 60 Minutes, as
its official charity at ESX this year. If that sounds a little unusual,
consider this: When it comes to combat duty, a Warrior Dog isn’t your average
These Special Operations Forces dogs are highly trained battlefield
partners capable of detecting explosives, tracking insurgents, pursuing and
apprehending attackers, and thriving in conditions that would be unfavorable for
humans. They even jump from planes. They are fast, agile, tough, relentless,
and – like their human counterparts – unwavering in their dedication and
Much of what these special operations canines do is
classified, but one thing is clear: Dozens of special operations dogs have died
in battle, and even more have sustained serious trauma, so that human lives
could be saved.
Former Navy SEAL Mike Ritland established The Warrior Dog
Foundation not only to support the special operations dogs who have been injured or
retired from active duty, but also as a way of supporting the special
operations community and their families. Dogs are typically placed for
adoption, though a few aren’t suited for family life because of injuries or
temperament issues. The foundation also works to educate the public about the importance
of the dogs, and the role they play in battle.
Ritland, who also trains dogs for special operations duty, will be
present at ESX along with Rico, a warrior dog currently awaiting deployment.
They will hold an onsite signing for Ritland’s book "Trident K9
Warriors." For a $50 donation, Ritland will sign a book,
and Rico will add his own signature by giving the cover a good, solid bite. Dog tags will also be
given to those who make a donation of $20 or more.
More than anyone, Ritland knows
from personal experience the difference these canine warriors can make in the field. It puts an
entirely new spin on the term "man’s best friend.”
"When you see these dogs operating in the capacity they can,
using their nose and finding explosives, your level of comfort (in battle)
absolutely skyrockets,” he said in a recent interview on 60 Minutes. "You know
that you’ve got one of the best-trained, best equipped working dogs out in
front of you that has your back.”
More information is available at www.warriordogfoundation.org.