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10 ways animals have served the military

By: Laura Moss on Sept. 17, 2010, 11:20 a.m.
anti-tank dog

Photo: By Maria Moskvitsova/Shutterstock

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Anti-tank dogs

Anti-tank dogs were used by the Soviet Union during World War II to fight German tanks. Dogs with explosives harnessed to their backs were trained to seek food under tanks — when the dog was underneath the vehicle a detonator would go off, triggering an explosion. While some Soviet sources claim that about 300 German tanks were damaged by the dogs, many say this is simply propaganda trying to justify the program.

In fact, the Soviet anti-tank dog had several problems. Many dogs refused to dive under moving tanks during battle because they had been trained with stationary tanks, a fuel-saving measure. Gunfire also scared many of the dogs away, and they would run back to the soldiers’ trenches, often detonating the charge upon jumping in. To prevent this, the returning dogs were shot — often by the people who had sent them — which made trainers unwilling to work with new dogs.