|The St. Paul Minnesota K9 Unit|
In today’s era of dangerous citizens, drugs, weapons, terrorism, human trafficking, and other serious problems, police departments on the federal, state, and local levels have adopted the use of specially trained dogs to assist officers in their duties of protecting the public. Also called K9 units, these dogs as well as the officers that work with them on a daily basis are some of the most valuable resources that law enforcement agencies can utilize.
Police dogs are put through a battery of tests before they are even sold to a police agency – they must pass obedience and agility tests, as well as be comfortable around people. If the dog is able to meet all of these qualifications, then they are able to be purchased by an agency. Although it is essential for training to occur throughout the dog’s career, the basic training between the dog and its handler takes approximately 12 weeks. Most K9s are trained in multiple disciplines – some of which include: tracking, suspect apprehension, drug and/or explosive detection, arson, and cadaver. The cost of the dog itself is approximately $8,000, in addition to the training at a cost of approximately $12,000. In total, $20,000 seems like a ton of money to put into one dog – but the dogs often make back that cost in the amount of drugs or other illegal substances that they are able to detect. This sometimes happens in one simple traffic stop.
Part of an episode of K9 Cops, a show
that features the St. Paul, Minnesota
K9 Unit. This is one of the most elite
K9 Units in the country
There are multiple breeds of dogs that are suitable for police work. Some of the most common include: German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Argentine Dogos. Different breeds are more suitable for different specializations; however, these three can be trained to be the most versed across a variety of tasks. Here is a listing of different breeds and some of the things that they can specialize in.
Police dogs, in many agencies, are treated as sworn officers and even wear ballistic vests and badges. In the event that a suspect tries to or does attack a dog, the suspect will be charged with the same charges that come with attacking an officer. Should a dog be killed in the line of duty, they are often given a full police funeral just as an officer would.
While on duty, police dogs are one animal – but off duty, they are well known to be great with families and as companions. For K9 officers, their partner is with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Officers must make sure that their dogs are good with their family, so that they can be in the house with kids, etc. when the officer and dog are off duty. In addition, officers are responsible for feeding and caring for their dog, taking them to the vet, bathing them, and continuing training and agility work – even on days off. It is essential to keep the K9s well trained so that they are able to function to the best of their ability while on duty.
K9 units are one of the most essential tools that law enforcement agencies have. They are costly to start up, but they often make their money back after a short amount of time.