Community mourns loss of local war dog

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SOUTH LYON, Mich. (WLNS) – We often honor our nation’s veterans through holidays, parades, and many other activities, but something that doesn’t happen as often is recognizing those who help them make it back home safely.

It’s a way to honor those who have fallen and serve as a reminder that not all heroes walk on two legs.

“If those four paws are on the ground, then all our two-legged soldiers are that much safer,” said Tracy Spader.

Dozens of people and fellow soldiers came together in South Lyon to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind war dog.

Jig served in the Marine Corps for seven years beginning in 2006, spending time overseas while serving our country.

“This is a military dog, Marine Corps, served in Afghanistan, all indication he was in special ops. He did his job; he brought everybody home safe,” said Phil Weitlauf, the founder of the Michigan War Dog Memorial.

Jig retired in 2013 after being diagnosed with oral melanoma, a common cancer among dogs. That’s when Spader and her husband adopted him.

“He was such a sweet, sweet boy, had such a sweet soul,” said Spader.

Jig passed away last month. In an effort to honor dogs like him, Weitlauf started the Michigan War Dog Memorial.

“How the dogs saved the squad’s life, that inspired me, and I said let’s do something with this,” said Weitlauf.

Weitlauf plans to continue recognizing these heroes for years to come.

“They need to be recognized and they need to be honored and that’s why we do it here today,” said Weitlauf.

If you’d like to learn more about the Michigan War Dog Memorial, click here.

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