Police dogs play an extremely important role in law enforcement. They are used to apprehend criminals, detect drugs or explosive, patrol areas, and search for survivors when tragedy strikes. These special canines are utilized all over the world because of their courage, perseverance, and loyalty to their handlers. Unfortunately many of them are injured in the line of duty or become to old or sick to continue working. This is where Mission K9 Rescue steps in to help.
Bob Bryant, the co-founder, and his organization have been rescuing contract, military, and police dogs for close to ten years. They also help connect working dogs with their original handlers. We recently had the privilege of interviewing Bob to find out more about his amazing mission and what’s in store for the future.
If you are thinking about adopting a retired police dog or service dog, this article will give you some great insight and answer some common questions potential adopters want to know.
1. Tell us about Mission K9 Rescue and what exactly you hope to accomplish with the organization?
Mission K9 Rescue was formed in 2013 by two active animal rescuers with a love for working dogs. They learned that Military Dogs did not get a paid trip home to the handler that was adopting them when the dog(s) were retired outside the continental United States.
Military and Contract Working Dogs were waiting months to go home and were often not exercised enough to remain fit and healthy. In addition to that, they learned that many contract working dogs were abandoned overseas and/or held in deplorable conditions. Locally, they also found that some Police K9’s are not adopted by their partners and often fall through the cracks.
Their drive to end this suffering and recognize these dogs for the selfless sacrifice they give humanity led them to reach out to a third partner who would manage the organization and grow it financially through donations, leaving them to do their rescue work and liaison full time.
Mission K9 has rescued over 1000 working dogs since 2013. Over 540 have been reunited with their handlers. Mission K9 has assisted with vet costs amounting to over $1M since then. We have accomplished a great deal since inception and do it all with 88% of donations going directly to the work.
We have accomplished more in our first 9 years than we thought possible thanks to our loyal supporters. We continue to grow daily to better serve working dogs around the world.
2. Retired police dogs have helped us in so many ways. Why is it so important that we help them?
While we deal with several types of working dogs, let’s look at PD K9’s specifically for a moment. These dogs had no choice in their service, however their work drive makes them most suitable. They trained like athletes and years of work takes a huge toll on their bodies. They would give their lives for their handler and often are killed in the line of duty. These dogs take millions of dollars in narcotics off the streets, find missing persons, catch bad guys, and often locate the deceased.
We owe them a debt of service in retirement, caring for those that risked it all for us. It is the very least we can do. These dogs deserve full retirement veterinary care and do not receive it. Departments should fund continued healthcare for their retired K9’s just like retired human officers.
3. Who should adopt a retired police dog?
Adopters will need large breed experience and have the time to stimulate and exercise the dogs. Adopters should be prepared to assume the cost of care which can be considerably higher due to conditions caused by their service. PD K9’s that are single purpose dogs are more easily adoptable by the public. They are either trained to find drugs or explosives, but not trained to attack.
As long as normal considerations are checked related to drive and anxiety issues as well as their toleration for other pets in the household many will qualify. Bite trained dogs are normally only adopted to individuals with past experience handling potentially aggressive dogs due to the risk their training poses.
4. What are the pros and cons of adopting a retired police dog?
An alert companion that is always ready to be with YOU is the best pro in adopting a retired police dog. Someone that always wants to be with you and do with you an ANY time. They will always be by your side. Time is not always on their side along with increased care needs at times.
We have a limited number of years with a retired dogs. No matter how long they have, it is never enough. Heartbreak is part of adopting a retired dog when it’s time to say “Goodbye”. While high drive is not a “con” it can be a hindrance to those that are not active and a disservice to the retired K9.
5. How do you vet potential owners before re-homing one of your rescue dogs?
We perform complete background checks along with a thorough application process. They have no less than two interviews and need to come meet and interact with the dog(s) they may match with. Approved adopters complete an indemnity agreement as well as a signed application.
6. What would you say to someone who is worried about the dog having major anxiety and stress?
I would tell them that it is part of the dog’s nature from their service if they indeed have PTSD. We don’t see a lot of that from Police K9s, more from Military Dogs that have been in explosions or firefights.
Also, if they are concerned about it, knowing the nature of the dogs, we would likely recommend not to adopt to a person with those concerns as they may not be willing to address them. If so, the dog would be receiving less of a retirement than deserved.
7. What sort of budget can a potential adoptee expect to spend on a retired police dog considering medical costs?
Average cost of care, not including surgeries, but including dental is about $1000 – $1500 per year. If a dog needs particular meds, it can go higher.
8. What is your most memorable adoption since working at Mission K9 Rescue?
In all candor, we can’t pick just one. They are all beautiful. One of the most memorable was the adoption of a Bomb Dog (CWD Hank) to Lloyd, a Vietnam Vet that was a Handler in the conflict. He said “I had to leave my dog behind in Vietnam. Hank is going to heal a hole in my heart from that experience.” We see so many lives changed by those that adopt!
9. Why is it so important that retired police dogs and handlers are reunited?
They are a team. Teams need to stay together. They depend on each other. They should never be separated in retirement.There are times when a handler can’t take his/her K9 due to having a new K9 partner. Often it does not work out due to aggression issues and again, the TIME needed by the working dogs.
Many handlers have someone they know adopt and that way they can keep in contact. Those that adopt our dogs that still have a handler always invite the handlers to keep in touch and visit. Most do just that.
10. How can people donate and why are donations so important to Mission K9 Rescue?
Supporters can donate to us via https://donate.missionk9rescue.org or via Paypal by Sending to “Mission K9 Rescue”.
If they prefer to mail a check, please use this address for donations by mail:
Mission K9 Rescue
P.O. Box 395
Needville, TX 77461-0395
Mission K9 has an 88% spend to mission ratio. That means that donor funds are not spend on administration costs. Donations go directly to the work.
We are not federally funded and rely on the public and companies for ongoing support.
Facts About Retired Police Dogs:
- Every year more than 10,000 dogs from many different law enforcement agencies retire.
- Most police dogs retire because of their age usually working until they are 6-9.
- Retired police dogs receive a pension plan in some countries to help with medical costs.
- They receive the same honours for their police work as their handlers.
- Until Robby’s law in 2000, military dogs were regularly euthanized following their service.
Adopting a retired police dog is not for everyone. You need to have some experience with large dog breeds like the German Shepherd. Single purpose dogs who have not been trained to bite or attack are the best option unless you are an experienced handler who knows what it takes to maintain an aggressive dog.
You also need to consider the costs. A lot of retired police dogs suffer injuries and may have anxiety or trauma from service that will require serious commitment. Make sure you know what you are getting into.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any questions about adopting a retired police dog? Let us know! I’m sure Bob would love to help if you are serious about adopting!