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Group Trains 'Pit Bulls' to be Police K-9s

December 26, 2016  | 

Universal K9 provided a grant to put K-9 Berry with her new handler. (Photo: Facebook)
Universal K9 provided a grant to put K-9 Berry with her new handler. (Photo: Facebook)

The traditional mix of canine breeds used in law enforcement is beginning to see some new variety. Most people envision a police dog as a German shepherd, Belgian malinois, bloodhound, or maybe a Labrador retriever. But some are hoping to change that by introducing mixed-breed shelter dogs that many call "pit bulls."

New York-based Animal Farm Foundation and Texas-based Universal K9 have partnered for about two years to train rescue dogs and donate them to departments across the country, reports the Toledo Blade.

"We train them to do the same work traditionally reserved for purebred dogs," Stacey Coleman, executive director of the foundation, said.

The K-9 Detection Program has placed about 15 to 20 canines, and another class of dogs will graduate soon.

"The reason we do all of it is to change that negative stigma," Mrs. Coleman said. "It's a big deal for our mission."

Universal K9 acquires and trains the rescued dogs, while Animal Farm Foundation sponsors the training for police officers becoming K-9 handlers through the program.

Brad Croft, owner and trainer at Universal K9, used to buy, train, and sell purebred German shepherds for police work. He later changed the business to a nonprofit that rescues, trains, and donates shelter dogs.

"A few years into it, I realized that there were a ton of dogs in shelters that had some of the same capabilities, and there were tons of police departments out there that needed these dogs and couldn't afford them," he said. "It doesn't take a special breed of dog to do this type of work. It's a God-given gift. Either a dog has it or they don't."

Mr. Croft said a dog of any breed can have the high-energy, high-drive personality needed for police work, and those canines often do not fare well in a shelter environment and are difficult to adopt out.

"Those are the dogs that end up getting euthanized because they do not do good in homes," he said. "We're helping so many different things with one stroke by saving dogs, helping law enforcement, and saving taxpayer dollars."

The dogs in the program are dual-trained for detecting narcotics or explosives, and patrol tasks such as tracking people and article searches. But they are not trained in bite work for apprehending suspects.

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

LEO @ 12/26/2016 2:32 PM

I am not against using non-purebred and rescue dogs for police work, I am against using any pit-bull breed for a police K-9. Well over half of the dog bite calls and attacks against law enforcement in our area are a pit-bull mix. The Hispanic population breed them for illegal dog fighting as well. I believe they have bloodlines of this nature and you are taking an unnecessary chance with them.

KG @ 12/27/2016 11:39 AM

For LEO, First about Hispanic Pop are Breeding them for Dog Fighting, U sound Racist Partner, Not just Us because im also Hispanic, Everyone that i have heard of or seen on the News i dont see hispanics doing that. Its all Races that Fight Dogs but as you out it out their that HISPANICS, really Bud man ill hate to Be ur Partner. Choose your Words wisely before you go out there Bashing my Race!!! Geeezzz🤔

tom @ 12/27/2016 3:17 PM

Leo, careful. You sound like you have bought into the bad press about these dogs. I have been a cop for almost 40 years and I am here to tell you that a mean dog is a mean dog. They come in all sizes, breeds, and from a wide variety of people. I know people who don't trust certain breeds, or are waiting on them to turn on someone. Well, sometimes you have to keep waiting. The best dog I ever owned was an 85 pound male Doberman, that didn't have a mean bone in his body. Yea, I could take meat out of his mouth. My daughter rescued a pit mix 10 years ago, and he is great with kids, people and other dogs. Give this program a chance, before you put it down, based on a few of your experiences. My community was going to ban pit bulls, then after I pointed out that we did not have a single attack by a pit bull, but 3 people hospitalized by attacks from (ready for this) German Shepherds, they changed it to vicious dogs. Dogs are like people, don't judge them based on color.

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