Retired Police dogs put to sleep
There are always myths and fables about Police dogs and what they can or can’t do. It never fails to amaze me when I’m asked if its’s true that drugs detection dogs are addicts. Clearly the substances they are looking for are toxic to them and their health would be severely compromised should they ingest them. Or is the suggestion that we help them to jack up? After all, having no opposable thumbs would mean they need help.
There is always a Police officer somewhere who can’t help but do something to bring everyone else into disrepute and life is no different with dog handlers. There have been numerous incidents over the years that serve to make life harder for those decent handlers. There is also no shortage of people who are unable to see any Police officer as an individual and tar everyone with the same brush.
The fate of retired Police and military dogs has recently come into the media spotlight and so I thought I would add my two penneth to the mix. Check out these two links for starters. Police dogs. Military dogs.
In the UK and certainly in my force area, Police dogs live at home with their handlers. After working so closely with the dogs for 8 years or so you invariably form a close bond. Most handlers tend to keep their retired dogs but there are always reasons why this doesn’t happen.
Search dogs are usually no problem but patrol dogs are a different kettle of fish. It isn’t just about the ‘tricks’ they have been taught. The job requires a certain type of dog and they are are generally high drive, very confident dogs for whom the use of aggression to solve their problems is part of everyday life. These dogs need experienced handling but there is a lot of differentiation between dogs.
Dogs bred and prepared for life as a working dog are often easier to rehome as they tend to be much more stable. Many of the dogs that become Police or military dogs are gifted from pet homes. They have become too much for their owners or are showing unwarranted aggression. For some, euthanasia is on the cards when they come to the working environment and that is their salvation. The trouble with many of these dogs is that due to their genetic make up they can be switched on but switching them off is not so easy. These dogs are very difficult to rehome because they are often less stable. if the handler can’t keep the dog for some reason then there are few options for such a dog.
Life is often cruel and in some cases there is no happy ending. The best way to rationalize the fate of dogs like these is that they were potentially facing euthanasia anyway and that they have had a good few years reprieve.
Life for most working dogs is good. They spend their lives doing the things they were bred to do. Using their genetic drives to hunt and chase and spending far more time exercising and being with their handlers than most pet dogs could dream of. You could argue that a premature death after a fantastic life is better than a long drawn out life as a couch potato, where the highlight of your day is a 20 minute trot around the local park.
The figures in the articles in the links fail to give an accurate picture. Without knowing the exact circumstances, then none of us is in a position to make a moral judgement or intelligent statement. From my experience I would say that the majority of dogs are kept by their handlers. Those that need to be are rehomed to game keepers or anyone looking for a dog that is slightly more useful than your average Shepherd. There seems to be no shortage of willing volunteers. There are also occasionally dogs for whom in order to protect everybody involved, euthanasia is the safest option.
If you have a working dog that is due to retire then perhaps this link will be of interest. It is for the Bravo working dog rescue.