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Discussion On Use of Animals in the Military

April 23, 2003
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"War is not healthy for children and other living things."

These words were first written by mothers in the United States during the Vietnam War. They were concerned that their children were being sent halfway around the world to kill the children of Vietnamese mothers. They put the statement on a postcard and sent it to Congress.

Since then, the words have become a powerful description of wartime destruction of not only people but also animals and the environment.

In the invasion of Iraq the Pentagon reportedly has enlisted dolphins, chickens, dogs, sea lions and pigeons. Plus there are reports that Moracco gave the U.S. 2,000 monkeys to assist with de-mining projects.

Dolphins are scouting seaports in search of mines. The dolphins are equipped with cameras that transmit video images back to their handlers. When they find a mine they are trained to report back by playing with a so-called "I’ve found something" rubber ball. When the dolphins find a mine, their minder sends a group of human divers to the area to detonate it. The Washington Post reports that Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is the seafaring equivalent of bomb-sniffing dogs.

The Marines have been using chickens and pigeons in Kuwait to detect poison gas. But the Marines have admitted that dozens of the birds never made it to the Middle East after dying in transit.

The deceased chickens and pigeons will hardly be the first U.S. animals not to return to the states after a war. According to PETA, 5,000 dogs served alongside U.S. troops in Vietnam. Only 140 came home. Some died in Vietnam but most were abandoned by the military.

  • William R. Rivas-Rivas, PETA Campaign Coordinator.
  • David Helvarg, Author of ??Blue Frontier–Saving America’s Living Seas and founder of the Blue Frontier Campaign in Washington D.C.

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