US Coins

House approves 2025 K–9 commemorative coin program

Just as dogs need training in their specific job skills, like sniffing out bombs or catching criminals, they also need training to get used to the sounds, sights and sensations they could encounter at work. Here, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Grant gets his canine partner, Sonya, used to the wind, noise and motion of being hoisted into a helicopter above the ground.

Image courtesy of the Department of Defense.

The U.S. House of Representatives May 21 passed a bill seeking a three-coin commemorative coin program for 2025 honoring working dogs in the United States, including those in the  armed forces.

H.R. 807 was initially introduced in the lower chamber of Congress Feb. 2, 2023, by Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina.

McHenry’s bill has been forwarded to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for further consideration.

A companion bill, S. 711, introduced March 8, 2023, by Sen. Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, has seen no legislative movement since introduction.

The bills seek the production and sale, in Proof and Uncirculated finish versions combined, of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, up to 500,000 silver dollars in a composition not less than 90% silver, and up to 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars.

Designs to be presented for consideration to both the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee would be rendered in consultation with America’s VetDogs (https://www.vetdogs.org/), the organization designated as the beneficiary of net surcharges from the sale of the coins, after the U.S. Mint recoups all of its production and related costs.

The sale price of each gold $5 coin would carry a $35 surcharge, while a $10 surcharge would be collected from each silver dollar purchase and $5 from each clad half dollar.

Historical perspective

The United States had an unofficial canine military presence assisting soldiers in the American Civil War and World War I, but military K–9s did not become officially recognized until March 13, 1942.

During the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is estimated that the United States military employed nearly 2,500 K–9s.

Military K–9s have seen service in every major United States combat since World War I and have been praised by military leadership as an indispensable asset for military, police, government, and private security teams around the world.

In 2000, Congress passed “Robby’s Law” which allowed for the adoption of military K-9s by law enforcement agencies, former handlers, and other care groups.

Since 2000, military K–9s have left service and gone on to work for police forces in explosive detection, and work as service dogs for veterans and families.

Beyond their military working capacity, working dogs provide enhanced mobility assistance and renewed independence for the injured and disabled.

Service dogs are able to support veterans struggling after war, hear for those who are deaf, see for those who are blind, and even sense changes in a person’s body before a seizure. Working dogs play a vital role in improving the lives of many.

The service dog programs of America’s VetDogs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to United States veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities.

According to the legislation, America’s VetDogs provides:
➤ Guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision;
➤ Hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing later in life by alerting to alarms, door bells, sirens, and more;
➤ Service dogs for those with other physical disabilities that are specially trained to provide balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on and off lights, carry a backpack, and more;
➤ Facility dogs which are specially trained to spend time working with wounded veterans recovering at military hospitals and veterans medical centers;
➤ Dogs that work with physical and occupational therapists as they treat soldiers and become an essential part of the healing process; and
➤ PTSD service dogs that are trained to help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD by providing the emotional and physical support a veteran may need.

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