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Animal shelter honors military working dogs with memorial

A tribute to military working dogs is at Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas.
A tribute to military working dogs is at the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas.
(Courtesy of Rancho Coastal Humane Society)

A tribute to military working dogs stands in the dog park of the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas

A tribute to military dogs stands on the lawn of an animal shelter in Encinitas.

When it was built 11 years ago, the Military Working Dog Memorial at Rancho Coastal Humane Society was billed as the only private memorial of its kind west of the Mississippi River. It is still considered unique, but not a lot of folks outside the community know about it.

But folks who do, cherish it. The bricks surrounding the memorial honor pets, people and local groups.

The idea of the memorial is to honor canine heroes who save the lives of service members and encourage their adoption when they retire from service.

The memorial consists of a life-size granite sculpture of a 12-year-old German shepherd, known as Chyba, who served as a U.S. Army military patrol and security police dog in Kuwait and Germany.

Chyba came to San Diego to be adopted by Madeleine Pickens and the late American business magnate T. Boone Pickens more than a decade ago.

The Rancho Coastal Humane Society president was asked to escort Chyba to Washington, D.C., with the couple and toured Arlington National Cemetery with other military working dogs and their handlers.

The sculpture sits on top of a 4 foot by nearly 4-foot-tall granite slab engraved with the emblems of various branches of the military.

Engraved on the top of the statue are the words “Rancho Coastal Humane Society proudly honors the military working dog.”

The statue is dedicated to “all military working dogs and their handlers, past, present and future, Your deeds and sacrifices will always be remembered.”

The memorial stands in a paved area in the shelter’s dog park, called Cricket’s Corner Community Dog Park, on the shelter’s campus at 389 Requeza St.

The nonprofit animal shelter is planning to redesign the area so that the tribute bricks will be engraved with personalized messages on a Memorial Wall, which will surround the statue. This will allow the bricks to avoid erosion from the elements.

The nonprofit is also planning to incorporate raised gardens, ambient lighting and a flagstone patio into the space surrounding the memorial to encourage outdoor gatherings. The renovation is part of the campus’s expansion, which is scheduled to begin this fall.

For more information, visit rchumanesociety.org.


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