By Peg McRoy
The K9s that work side by side with law enforcement officers are a special breed of dog.
In the line of duty these animals are elite athletes highly trained in detection and protection. When mixing with the community they are friendly public relations ambassadors. When off duty, these K9s live in the homes of their handlers (officers) and are treasured and much-loved family pets.
These dogs are imported from overseas and specifically bred for K9 units. When acquired by law enforcement, these dogs have already been given basic training. Once in the United States and placed with their handler, specialty training begins for what each dog is targeted to do for the departments they serve.
K9s are trained in specialties such as narcotics, firearms and tracking. The core focus of the local training is tailored to building the bond between the handler and the K9, so they become a well-oiled machine.
What these dogs do is invaluable to the community and often lifesaving for police officers.
“The K9 tracking helps keep officers out of harms way,” said Sgt. Brandon Cox with the Greenwood Police Department. “It is a safety thing for us. The dog can tell where a person is long before an officer can find them.”
The K9s travel in patrol cars with their officers and their mere presence inevitably attracts attention. The presence of a K9 can, and often does, alter the outcome of an interaction between an officer and a suspect. A person who is considering fleeing a police officer may completely put that option aside just by the mere presence of a K9.
Another avenue of value these K9s bring to the police departments they serve is creating a positive connection between the officers and the public.
Adults and children alike will approach an officer just to talk about the K9 and what the dog can do in the line of service.
The K9s work 12-hour shifts alongside their handler. When their shifts are over these dogs return home for down time and to be loving pets.
“These dogs live with us and are part of our family. At the end of the day they are just dogs that have been trained and want to please their handlers,” said Cox. “My dog at home is the biggest baby. He cuddles with my wife and kid. But the minute you put him in that squad car he will not let anyone around me. Not even my wife! They have a great on and off switch. But they know when they are at home they can relax.”
The Central Indiana 9K Association helps train K9 units across central Indiana. Here are ways anyone can help support K9 units and their handlers.
Supporting the Central Indiana K9 Association with sponsorships
The association supports and supplements K9 units across central Indiana and strives to assist, unite and promote all working K9 teams across central Indiana.
Sponsorship dollars go to support:
- The Shadow Fund — a medical grant program for retired dogs. Many times, when these dogs retire, they are signed over to their handler. The handler then becomes responsible for the dog’s medical costs. Often these dogs are retired due to medical issues so this can put a financial burden on the handler. The Shadow Fund is a grant program that a handler can apply to for financial assistance.
- The Training Program — supports the four quarterly training seminars that the association facilitates for central Indiana.
- A Monument for K9s — supports the long-term goal in creating a monument for dogs that have passed in the line of duty.
Sponsorships levels are:
The German Shepherd Pack – $2,500 and up
The Belgian Malinois Pack – $1,000 to 2,499
The Dutch Shepherd Pack – $500-$999
The Labrador Retriever Pack – $250-$249
The Bloodhound Pac – Up to $249
Address: P.O. Box 203, Plainfield, IN 46168