Any eligible person may be interred at any national cemetery that has available grave space. However, they cannot allow pets (cremated or otherwise) to be placed within the cemetery.
To the best of my research there are only two War Dog Memorials in the country that allow interment of Military Working Dogs with full honors; Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory (America's First and Most Prestigious Pet Burial Grounds) in Hartsdale, NY, and The Michigan War Dog Memorial in Lyon Township, Michigan.
When Mina crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and was denied burial at the Great Lakes National Cemetery the story broke on Fox 2 News and from there it went national.
Sgt. Corey McCourt’s mother, June Etlinger said, “I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Zehnder, Director of Public Services for Oakland County and Phil Weitlauf, Director of the Michigan War Dog Memorial as I received Mina's ashes. He was delivered by an Oakland County Animal Control officer (Complete with gun) in a cedar Chest draped with a small American flag to fit the top. I also received a cast of Mina's paw prints with a picture of my son and Mina on the other side. And etched in the cast is Mina's name.”
Burial with full honors for Mina will take place at the Michigan War Dog Memorial later this spring. This service will include a color guard, flag line, a reading and a rendition of “Taps.”
Why all of the attention to Mina?
“The Army brought Mina in to do a job, tattooed his ear, put him through training and boot camp — he went through everything that a soldier goes through, said June Etlinger. My opinion is that he is a real soldier who served nine tours of duty in Afghanistan as a bomb-sniffing dog,
Mina, a beautiful black Labrador retriever, was honorably discharged from the Army at the age of eleven and adopted by his handler, Sergeant Corey McCourt son of June Etlinger.
“Mina’s name, when translated in Spanish, means a mine, subterraneancanal or cavity in the ground. Despite being categorized as a feminine noun, often causing him to be called a female, Mina’s name accurately identifies his designated occupation. He is categorized as a mine-detection dog and specializes in area and route clearance and mine-field extraction. The dogs are trained to detect unexploded ordinances and casualty-producing devices.”
Sgt Corey McCourt, who joined the Army in 2005 said, “Mina’s got more deployments than I have total time in the Army. We have successfully cleared tens of thousands of meters of land in Afghanistan. “He’s my buddy. He’s my dog.”
Mina was also promoted to sergeant and then later retired with an honorable discharge from the army. But at the age of 13, Mina developed a serious lung ailment and sadly had to be put down. Sergeant McCourt is still fighting, but no longer with Mina. The Army classifies him as a piece of military equipment. But (Mina) did nine missions and brought every one of his handlers back safely.
The Michigan War Dog Memorial may not be as impressive or magnificent in appearance or style as The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, but it is not opposed to allowing interment of such dogs as Customs Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Border Patrol Dogs, Police Dogs, Secret Service Dogs and many more will be included with the Military Working Dogs as they help protect and serve our country. The only stipulation we have is that due to size of the property we ask that the dogs be cremated. The only cost associated for this service is for the headstone if the owner requests one.
To learn more about the War Dog Memorial Cemetery, visit www.mwdm.org.