President Donald Trump reportedly wants to honor Conan the dog for his efforts in tracking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month in northern Syria during a raid by the U.S. military that resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death.
“Trump is intrigued by the historic possibility of presenting the Belgian Malinois with the revered medal, and is known for setting precedents, like his decision to appear at the Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan Monday, or his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” The New York Post reported.
“Department of Defense rules currently forbid military working dogs from receiving the Purple Heart. The regulation was put in place after a dog named Chips was given one in 1943 for heroic action in World War II,” The Post continued. “In the days since, multiple human veterans and Purple Heart recipients have come forward to insist that President Trump reverse the DoD rules, saying dogs like Conan are as important as any human soldier.”
“It is the president’s desire to honor the dog. They are working out the details,” a source close to the White House told The Post’s Jon Levine. “The dog is working, probably involved in missions and everyone wants to keep the dog safe. When there is an opportunity, we can honor him and his handlers and the president is most certainly interested in doing that.”
Following the military raid late last month, Trump tweeted a photograph of the dog, writing, “We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!”
We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! pic.twitter.com/PDMx9nZWvw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2019
During his October 27 remarks on the operation, Trump said that Conan was “a beautiful dog, a talented dog.”
During a speech last week, Trump said, “I’ll say who the greatest hero was – forget about Trump. I’m not, he was – we did a lot of good work together. The dog was the great hero. Conan. Conan. He is coming to the White House very soon.”
Former Army Ranger Michael Bollinger, 26, who received a purple heart in 2017 told The Post, “Do I believe Conan should receive a Purple Heart for actions on target? Absolutely. They’re out there with us every step of the way.”
James Knuppenburg, 33, who served in the U.S. military for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, told The Post, “I would love to see Conan presented a Purple Heart with a live ceremony. I think that the K9 is the most valuable asset on the ground. I don’t think that you can replicate through technology or any sort of weaponry what the K9 is capable of … Without a doubt I think that any award – including the medal of honor – should be able to be received by a K9.”
Conan is a Belgian Malinois, a highly intelligent and active dog breed that has seen its demand skyrocket in the days since Trump revealed the dog’s identity.
However, breeders warn that the dogs are not for everyone because they require a significant amount of attention and interaction with their owners.
“These dogs are too much for most people,” Irene Howcroft, owner of Ruidoso Malinois, told ABC News. “But people want the new cool new ‘it’ dog. Malinois have become the cool new ‘it’ dog.”
“People think, ‘This will be a fun dog to have,’ and it will, but only if you are the right family or person,” Howcroft added.