An estimated 10 million horses and mules, 100,000 dogs and 200,000 pigeons were enrolled in the war effort, according to Eric Baratay, a French historian specializing in the response of animals to the chaos, fear and smells of death in the mission that man thrust upon them.
World War I marked the start of industrial warfare, with tanks, trucks, aircraft and machine guns in action. But the growing sophistication of the instruments of death couldn't match the dog tasked with finding the wounded, the horses and mules hauling munitions and food or the pigeons serving as telecommunications operators or even eyes, carrying "pigeongrams" or tiny cameras to record German positions.
Horses are ancient warriors, but most of those conscripted during World War I weren't war-ready. They died by the millions, from disease, exhaustion and enemy fire, forcing the French and British armies to turn to America to renew their supply. A veritable industry developed with more than half a million horses and mules shipped by boat to Europe by fall 1917, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
So important was the commerce that the Santa Fe Railroad named a station Drage, after British Lt. Col. F.B. Drage, the commander of the British Remount Commission in Lathrop, Missouri, a major stockyard for the future beasts of war.
"So the war business in horses and mules is good," read an article in the December 1915 issue of The Santa Fe Magazine, for employees of the railway system. Good for the farmer, contractor, supplier and railroads, it said, but "not good for the animals."
CANTON TWP., MI -- Brothers Gary and Matt Percy could face nearly half a million dollars in penalties for removing more than 1,400 trees from their property without permission from Canton Township.
The two own a 16-acre property off of Yost Road, east of Belleville Road in Canton Township with the intention of creating a Christmas tree farm on the plot, according to their attorney, Michael J. Pattwell.
The land was filled with "invasive plants like phragmites, buckthorn and autumn olive," he said.
But the township requires land owners to gain permission and promise new tree plantings before cutting down existing forestry, especially for landmark or historic trees.
Canton Township defines 'trees' as 'any woody plant with at least one well-defined stem and having a minimum diameter at breast height of three inches.' The Percy parcel was used historically by a local farmer for dairy pasture, so much of the vegetation on the parcel was invasive buckthorn, scrub brush and dead ash trees."
The Percy brothers believed they were exercising a state and local exemption for farming when they cleared the land, but city officials arrived on-site and signaled immediately their intention to levy big fines in excess of $700,000," Pattwell said. "But that's not what this case is about. We are talking here about a parcel of former pasture land surrounded entirely by industrial activity.
"This case is about misguided overreach. It is unavoidably about whether people who own property are allowed to use it ... We contend the Percy brothers exercised a farming exemption in the local tree removal law to clear the historic pasture behind their business and develop a Christmas tree farm."