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Cause for the Paws: ESA Gives Back to the Warrior Dog Foundation at ESX

Posted By Jeaneen Bengtson, Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2013

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 Huckleberry Hound.

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 loyalty.

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

Tags:  ESA Gives Back  warrior dog foundation 

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