K-9

 

Law enforcement agencies all over the United States have long recognized the value of properly trained police service dogs. The police K-9, due to its strength, agility, courage, and other amazing capabilities, can be utilized to assist law enforcement in many ways. Because of their attributes, police service dogs can be utilized to assist in locating missing persons/children, track suspects from crime scenes, subdue combative subjects, locate evidence and perform searches for hiding persons, to name just a few.

 

K-9

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the dogs when they’re not on duty?
The K-9 and handler form a unique bond, for this reason and many others the K-9 is kept at the home of their handler who is primarily responsible for the K-9’s well being.

How does a deputy become a K-9 Handler?
As with any other position within the department, they apply for it. Consideration is given to those with previous experience, for example military dog handler, but any deputy may apply. After applying, they must pass a screening process and if accepted must then go through extensive training prior to being paired with their K-9.

Where does the department get their K-9’s?
A K-9 is purchased from a reputable and licensed trainer.  All police dogs are mature and trained prior to being paired with their handler. Additional training is then needed to establish the working relationship.  Pct. 5 K-9 Units have a scheduled training session once a week, but handlers are constantly training with their four legged partner.

What breed of dog does Pct. 5 use?
For years the most popular breed for a police dog has been the German Shepherd, but other breeds have proven to be just as reliable in this field.  Pct. 5 uses Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for patrol dogs, and has a Labrador Retriever trained to sniff out drugs, bombs, and people.

How much does a police dog cost?
A police K-9 can cost from $7,000 - $10,000 each!  To put that into perspective, consider that out of approximately 500 candidates less than 5 will have the drive set, characteristics, and temperament to be part of our K-9 program. These dogs are highly trained, taking 4-6 months of intensive daily training prior to pairing with a handler. When measured in terms of effectiveness and officer / community safety, they are well worth the investment.

Can I pet a police dog?
It’s not a good idea to attempt to pet any dog you are unfamiliar with. In the case of police dogs, keep in mind that they are trained in handler protection and suspect apprehension, part of their job is to bite. Some K-9’s are trained in detection and tracking only, and are usually much less aggressive than patrol dogs. Nevertheless, it depends on the temperament of the dog. Always ask the handler before attempting to approach a police K-9.

Is hurting a police dog against the law?
These K-9’s put their lives on the line every day, just as their handlers and every other peace officer does. The state recognizes this fact and affords them protection under the law. Injuring or killing a police dog is a 2nd degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for 2-20 years.

How long does a police dog remain in service?
On average a police K-9 will work for about 7 years. The actual amount of time spent in service depends on the dog’s physical condition and drive to continue working. Going to work everyday is what these dogs love most, and as long as there is no physical limitation, we afford them that opportunity.

What about when they’re done being police dogs?
Family unity is important to these four legged deputies and their home with their handler is all they know. Therefore, the K-9, subject to Commissioners Court approval, is kept by the handler. If for some reason the K-9 is not able to stay at the handler’s house, it is offered to other members of the K-9 unit or even other members of the agency.

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