Animals played a crucial role in World War I and demonstrated heroisms and valor along with the men they fought with.
Pigeons had important roles in communication because of their speed and ability to fly above the fray. They also have natural homing instincts which makes them extremely reliable and capable as messengers, because they could always find their way home. Pigeons were so important that during the war, the British Defense of the Realm Act made it a crime to kill, wound, bother, or not adequately take care of pigeons.
Dogs were also used as messengers during the war because they could more easily navigate the trenches and battlefields than soldiers could. Dogs were also able to locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield because of their sense of smell. Their smell and hearing also made dogs effective guards and scouts. They could also detect enemy gas before the soldiers and alert the men of the danger by barking.
Horses and mules were important beasts of burden to move artillery, supplies, and other materials. Horses were used as transportation and seen as crucial life savers for wounded soldiers. General John J. Pershing stated ‘The army horses and mules proved of inestimable value in prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. They were found in all the theaters of preparation and operation doing their silent but faithful work without the faculty of hoping for any reward or compensation.’
Even slugs played an important role. Slugs were able to detect mustard gas before humans could and would visibly indicate their discomfort by closing their breathing pores and compressing their bodies. When soldiers saw this, they would quickly but on their gas masks. Slugs wound up saving many lives.