We celebrate a handful of fun, playful pet holidays such as; If Pets had Thumbs Day on March 3rd. But K-9 Veterans Day should not be taken lightly. K-9 units are comprised of a handler and a dog, and in most states, these dogs carry the same merit as human officers. Harming these courageous pups is punishable by law and held to the same standards as harming human officers. Let’s take a minute to look back in history and learn about how K-9s started their life in public service…
Dogs were first used for police work in France in the early 1300s. They were most commonly used for guard work, and started being used for what we know today as police dog work in 1888. London Metropolitan Police Force was the first to use these dogs to apprehend suspects and the trend spread across the world. In the United States, police dogs, specifically German Shepards, were first used to control riots. While pups are still used to track and apprehend suspects, they are more typically used for their keen sense of smell. They are trained to sniff out drugs, weapons, explosives, and chemicals used in arson cases.
These K-9 officers are trained by what is called a handler. These handlers are human officers that assist in the training and care of these pups. In order to build a strong bond and trust, the K-9 lives with the handler and their family.
As mentioned, these pups require a lot of special training, but we must also recognize the natural instinct found within the breed. Certain breeds have proven to be better with some tasks.
Police dogs – German Shepard, Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retriever, Bloodhound, Beagle, Rottweiler
Fire dogs – Dalmatian
Search and Rescue dogs – Border Collie, German Shepard, Bloodhound, Labrador Retriever
U.S. Custom and Border Protection dogs – Sporting Dogs, Labrador Retriever
Military dogs – Dutch and German Shepards, Belgian Malinois
So today let’s take a moment to salute these veterans who are often overlooked and underappreciated. They are smart, brave, and complete our police forces, fire departments, and military! To the ones who serve today and the ones who have served in the past….thank you!
Sources: Police Dog History, http://k9handler.com/police-dog-history/
Top 10 Service Dogs, http://dogtime.com/top-10-service-dogs.html