Wednesday, August 11, 2010

K-9 Dogs

Homeland Security Going To The Dogs
President Harry S. Truman once said: “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must have taken Truman’s advice because they’re adding 3,000 dogs to our nation’s capital, airports, and along our country’s borders to heighten security measures. Dog breeders have been alerted to the need. This call for more breeder dogs ignited conflict between certain animal rights groups and those using these dogs for police operations.

One animal advocate fired off an editorial response to DHS’s plan, calling for that agency to seek their dogs from animal shelters and pounds around the country instead of breeders. This author identified herself as the founder of an organization advocating ethical treatment of animals who did not want to see more dogs produced without homes.

The writer really lit a brush fire when she suggested DHS follow the example of “other police departments” using dogs adopted from the pound. These “police departments” were not identified in the article. Now, maybe somewhere in this country there are law enforcement agencies using these abandoned dogs for police operations—but I doubt it.

A popular police web site—primarily serving cops and ex-cops— re-printed this editorial. Howls from police officers ripped through the Internet (can one howl in writing?) One police officer curtly told the writer what she could do with a part of his anatomy. Nasty, nasty comments. This animal-rights advocate—although well meaning—jumped into a fire with both feet. Never, never come between and K-9 officer and his dog unless you want to get bit. This writer/dog lover’s suggestion lacked awareness as to what it takes to make a good K-9 dog—Tramp from the pound generally not qualified.

So what is the hoopla all about? I mean, taking animals from a pound and giving them a home sounds like a great idea. Certainly reasonable to advocates trying to empty the cages at the pound and save these pets from euthanasia. Now, don’t start hurling rocks my way. I love dogs and believe that every owner should treat their pets with love, care, and dignity. But sometimes these animal lovers just lack common sense.

DHS uses these animals to ferret out caches of drugs, cash, and explosives. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies uses these dogs for building searches, crowd control, and extracting bad guys from cars when the crooks won’t come out. To watch these K-9 units work is awesome. I can’t count how many times they’ve come to the rescue of  fellow officers search building where burglars lie in wait; or just standing by to get the bad guy’s rapt attention during a car stop when the officer needs to gain control . And when a suspect runs—I just stand back and watch the dogs go to work.

All this takes a special kind of dog—one that already comes with courage and heart inside. I'm not a trained canine trainer, but I do know you can’t train this traits into a dog. Many dogs wash out of the program because they don’t meet these standards: dogs coming from high-end breeders who carefully raise these animals to perform this kind of work. You can’t just drop into the local pound and snatch up a canine and go to work. It just won’t happen.

As a writer, I'd love to see a first person Point Of View (POW) mystery novel from the standpoint of a K-9 dog. The world of crime fighting through the eyes of an attack-trained dog? What must an animal think about us humans. Would this be first person POV or first dog POV? I'll leave that to the editors.

Q: What do you think about this issue? Was is worth raising?


  1. And what about the dog handler? There's a human that hasn't been given their due. Regardless of the viewpoint, I can't see anything short of much appreciation from LE (that hopefully translates to sales).

  2. You're right, Mark. In all this exchange, the officers working with these dogs have not been given their due. Good point.