These pit bulls are rescued from shelters and given a second chance at life as a working dog for law enforcement.
Pit bulls are often touted as aggressive, untrustworthy dogs because of the way humans have trained or treated them, but this description of them is unfair and unrepresentative of their true skills. The name itself is a highly generalized term to encompass a variety of bull terrier breeds and mixes that even slightly resemble them.
These breeds are highly intelligent, driven, sociable and friendly if allowed to be and trained properly. These qualities make them great candidates for a spot as a K9 alongside law enforcement, which is something that several organizations have noticed and decided to act on.
Animal Farm Foundation has made it their mission to erase the stigma surrounding pit bulls by starting out as a rescue for these dogs and evolving into a sponsor to get them trained to be K9s. The foundation currently collaborates with Universal K9, a training service, and Austin Pets Alive!, a rescue based in Texas.
Throughout the training, the dogs learn everything from narcotics, explosives, cadaver, and arson detection to criminal apprehension. By rescuing dogs from shelters and training them through a police dog grant that Animal Farm Foundation provides, these dogs’ lives are saved and they get to show their handlers how grateful they are by being excellent workers.
“Any dog that has the drive, confidence, and desire to work can do it! Breed does not dictate a dog’s ability to work,” explained Universal K9 founder Brad Croft.
One of the big advantages for police departments in accepting these dogs as officers is that the cost is completely free in comparison to the $10-15,000 it normally costs to buy a purebred, training German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, the most common police dog breeds. The sponsorship that Animal Farm Foundation provides makes this possible, and many pit bull rescues are grateful for the opportunity to help humans.
A couple working examples of the success of this program are Libby and Shaka. Libby was just days away from being euthanized when she was rescued and taken in by the program, and she showed what she was capable of on her first night shift. The department she worked for posted a photo of her next to her findings to send a message about the effectiveness of pit bulls on the force and intolerance for drug possession. Shaka was rescued in New York City but served on the force in Washington and Oregon, all the while showing her loving but determined nature. Her handler, Billy Wells, said,
“Shaka stands out above the rest who do the same type of detection work. She is a people pleaser and a wonderful pet.”
With time and effort, the stigma surrounding these breeds will hopefully lessen and it’s stories like these that help promote the positives of befriending these dogs.
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