You’ve likely figured out by now there are a great deal of topics to cover when writing about K-9 Units. The handlers aren’t typical police officers, the K-9’s aren’t typical American household pets, and the training the humans and K-9’s receive has evolved into a kinder and more effective curriculum. Despite all the best efforts and perfectly good intentions, sometimes the dog just doesn’t work out.
It is really uncommon for a K-9 Officer to “lose their job”. They love to work and will die protecting their handlers. It’s actually more common that the handler doesn’t make it through their training or can’t hold up their end of the commitment. Sergeant Drees said, “If a dog doesn’t make it, it’s for some other reason than training.” He explained that animal aggression or environmental fears are the leading causes that dogs don’t make the cut. Animal aggression is when the dog is not able to control their behavior toward other dogs or another animal. Environmental fears are when the dog is fearful of something like shiny floors. The handler will work with the dog to coach him/her to overcome these issues, but if they are ultimately unable to move beyond the issues, they are not moved to active duty. If a handler opts out of the K-9 unit, the dogs will work for a different handler after a period of training.
Our K-9 Officers are heroes over and over throughout their career. “They will give their life in a second to make sure their partner goes home”, said Sergeant Drees. He has seen K-9 Officers be stabbed and survive being drowned. So, what happens when it’s time to retire? Sergeant Drees said, “that’s the day their K-9 partner gets to come in the house, lay by the fire, eat people food, and cuddle with the family”. This makes for a happy and hopefully long retirement. “Retirement in the old days caused short retirement lives because there was another dog ‘taking over’ and leaving the old behind,” said Sergeant Drees.
Operation Vest Defense
Each year BACB Unleashed raises funds for a cause that benefits dogs and the community. This year our cause has been Operation Vest Defense; raising funds to purchase 2 protective vests for the newest K-9 Officers. Thanks to an enormously loyal and generous community BACB Unleashed has been able to collect enough funds to protect both K-9 Officers. We are proud of our K-9 Unit and of our community.
After interviewing Sergeant Drees, I now pay close attention to anything reported about Rochester’s K-9 units. In fact, since our interview, they’ve been heroes already! Sergeant Drees said, “I can’t use deadly force to protect my K-9 Partner” and that thought plays over and over in my mind. The K-9 Officer always goes into an apprehension situation first so their risk of being shot or stabbed is highest but ultimately that’s part of their job. Through efforts like Operation Vest Defense, outfitting K-9 Officers with a protective vest, we have done our part to wrap them in safety. Thanks Community, for your dedication and contribution.
Tail Wags and Belly Rubs,