Working animals such as dogs, horses, mules, and pigeons were a part of military life throughout most of World War II, and they all contributed significantly to the war effort. Americans volunteered their dogs, often precious house pets, to be of service during the war. These animals worked hard, often tirelessly, to please their military masters, and in some cases returned home to their civilian owners.
However, the importance of animals as companions, too, cannot be overlooked. Although most animals served in a utilitarian capacity, they also provided friendship and comfort to the humans who labored alongside them. In addition, many units, ships, and individuals adopted pets or mascots in their travels. These animals provided some lighthearted relief from the drudgery and fear of life at sea or in a combat zone. Dogs and cats were popular mascots, but more unusual pets such as monkeys, donkeys, and birds were also adopted. Here, we feature some of these loyal companions and friends in honor of National Pet Day.