Friday, February 17, 2012

Loyalty in the Most Unlikely Places

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion" Unknown Author

This quote is one that is familiar to a lot of dog advocates and dog lovers. Rescue advocates particularly love to quote this as it rings just as true for shelter dogs as it does for breeder bought puppies. Within the past years, it's begun to take on meaning in one of the most unlikely places.

Police canines are often thought of as large, purebred, specifically bred dogs with the optimum bloodline. That has started to change. Recently, certain police departments have recruited shelter and death row dogs for their K-9 police dogs.


Chicago Ridge is one police department that has taken on a shelter dog as a police narcotics dog (Raeke, 2009). The police department was notified by their local Animal Welfare League and introduced to Pantera, a black lab without a home. They quickly took him on and began his training, and he is now a certified narcotics dog.

Shaka the police dog above is an excellent example of a death row dog becoming a police dog. Pitbulls are not only severly misunderstood, but there are also hundreds euthanized on a daily basis because of the overpopulation and lack of experienced, responsible homes. Shaka is the prime example of a death row dog that was saved from death row to serve her purpose, which is as a Milwaukee police canine.

Shelter and death row dogs can make some of the best and most reliable police dogs. For one, mutts and diluted bred dogs, tend to live longer and healthier lives due to the fact that they don't suffer from certain diseases that can plaque specific breeds (Davidson). Dogs are extremely intelligent animals.

Shelter pets know that they are in danger, and can sense that they are near death. Being the person that takes them out of that environment makes them completely indebted to you. Dogs aim to please their human masters regardless of abuse and neglect. Dogs that have been tossed away like garbage and saved by a compassionate person, will go to the ends of the earth to please that person. There may be breeders out there that specifically breed their dogs to be excellent police canines, but in my opinion they've got nothing on the underdog.


Raeke, D (2009, November 6). From Shelter Dog to Certified Hero, Police Narcotics Dog. For Love of the Dog Blog. Retrieved from

Davidson, V. (no date). Choosing a dog, cheaper, healthier dogs, mixed-breed mutts, becoming more preferred than purebreds. Frugal Pet Tips. Retrieved from


  1. It makes me happy to see that abandoned dogs are given a second chance at life through law enforcement. I was not aware that law enforcement departments used mutts. But I believe it is great because, as you stated, pure bred dogs tend to suffer more health related problems. It also seems more logical to adopt and train dogs that are close to being put down. Not only does it give them a purpose to be saved, but they are also making a difference in the world.

    The training process for canines is also very expensive. But by adopting unwanted dogs instead of purchasing purebred dogs, which are much more expensive, departments should be able to save on some of the costs.

    The story of Shaka is also a real feel good story. Not only was she saved and now making a difference in the lives of others, but she also gives a positive label to pit bulls. Many people believe pit bulls are aggressive dogs that do not make good pets. The Michael Vick dog fighting scandal also gave pit bulls a bad appearance. But Shaka's story proves that under the right circumstances pit bulls can be not only a loyal pet, but also a great resource for police.

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  2. I have always been a dog owner and will always continue to be. I have been brought up in a German Shepherd family, and I have lived most of my life with at least 1, maybe 2 German Shepherds at all times. One of the most common police dogs are this magnificent breed, and I always told myself if I was to become a police officer (which I very much doubt will happen) I would be a canine handler with of course, a German Shepherd. It impresses me how the police department discussed above was able to not only rescue a dog on death row but turn it into a narcotics canine. Rescuing a dog is a wonderful thing and it should continue to happen in the future.

  3. Rescuing these dogs can bringing many benefits for police departments. Not only are they saving there lives, these dogs have never been treated fairly and rewarded for the good that they do. Shaka obviously proves that any breed can get the job done! It does save tons of money for the department and obviously this death row dog can get the job done just as good as the German Shepard. I recommend that our departments start testing and trying all sorts of different breeds because you never know what these incredible animals can bring to the table. These dogs are amazing and I look forward to working with them in the field!