Animals in Law Enforcement 

Categories: Animals

Have you ever seen a canine in uniform? Law enforcement agencies have used dogs for many years and consider them a part of their teams and as family. Not only do these K9’s help police officers, but they also help soldiers and firefighters. According to a study done in Lansing, Michigan, a single K9 team could complete building searches seven times faster than a search team of four officers (Steinrock, 2013). Canines involved in these forces have been able to save many people and make the jobs performed quicker and more efficiently.

Without Animals in Law, many of these jobs would be harder and fewer lives would be saved.

Police dogs are used in many if not all, police forces in the United States. These dogs are considered “locating tools” due to their keen sense of smell. An average human has roughly 5 million sensitive cells within the nose, while a dog has about 200 million cells within the nose (History of Accelerant Detection Canines, 2017).

The “locating” refers to their ability to sniff and find not only drugs and weapons but also humans such as criminals or missing people as well. Most of the Police canines you see are a breed called the German Shepherd. This breed is intelligent, strong, and obedient. Police K9’s are usually divided into two categories, “single” or “dual” purpose. “Single purpose dogs are used primarily for backup, personal protection, and tracking” (National Police Dog Foundation, 2018). Dual purpose canines have the same duties as a single purpose dog, along with the addition of detecting either explosives or narcotics.

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Dogs involved in the police force are not only trained to protect the public from harm, but they also form a very strong, protective, family-like bond with their officer/partner. For example, Officer Fraizer of Mississippi’s police department was saved by his k9 partner, Lucas. Officer Frazier had been severely beaten by three men until Lucas fought them off (Karimi, Faith, and Burnside, 2015). Without Lucas, Mississippi could have lost one of their sheriffs. Police canines begin working around the age of 12-15 months and depending on their health status, they usually retire at the age of 10 (National Police Foundation, 2018). Once the dog retires, it usually lives out the rest of its life with its handler as a family pet.

In 2017, approximately 1,319,500 fires were reported in the United States (Evarts, 2018). This is where the fire police dogs come in. A majority of these dogs go through a training program called Accelerant Detection canine program. This program trains dogs to sniff and detect a variety of flammable liquids used to start fires. Accelerant detection dogs have a sense of smell that is 100,000 times more sensitive than humans (History of Accelerant detection dogs, 2015). These dogs are very accurate and can cover a whole scene within 30 minutes. Canines started being used in the fire service back when a lot of fire companies had been privately run or volunteered. The most common breed that you will see working with firefighters is a breed called dalmatians. dalmatians are very loyal, brave, alert, and intelligent dogs. When the fire alarm sounds at the firehouse, they get right to their job and notify their firefighters that it is time to go to the rescue. These dogs are also used as the mascots of the firehouse, and guard belongings of the firehouse, including the fire trucks when on the job. Firedogs have also been used to assist firefighters to educate students at many schools on fire safety and emergency preparedness.

Another common duo is soldiers and their dogs. Not all soldiers are 2-legged brave people, there are also many furry, four-legged soldiers. Military dogs are trained to work in many situations; such as gunfire, muzzles, gas masks, etc. They guard supply dumps, airports, war plants, and many more areas. Military dogs do not all have the same jobs. Some of the different titles for these dogs are Scout/Patrol dogs, mine dogs, messenger dogs, casualty dogs, tunnel dogs, and explosive detection dogs. Scout/Patrol dogs are extremely intelligent canines who work in silence to detect snipers, ambushes, and enemies within 1,000 yards of them (Types of War Dogs, 2018).

Mine dogs are ones that can locate trip wires, booby traps, metallic and non-metallic mines. Another type of loyal military working dog is the messenger dogs. Their job is to travel silently and take advantage of natural cover when moving between two handlers (Types of War Dogs, 2018). Unfortunately, there are many deaths and injuries that occur in the military. This is where the casualty dogs begin working. These dogs search for and report casualties lying in places that are difficult for collecting parties to locate. Tunnel dogs are also important and have a very straight forward job, which is to detect and explore tunnels. The explosive detection dogs are extremely important in the war on terrorism. Explosive detection dogs alert at the scent of chemicals used in explosives that could be hidden on a person, in a vehicle, or on a roadside location (Types of War Dogs, 2018). The most common breeds used in the military include German Shepherds, Belgian Sheepdogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies, and Giant Schnauzers. However, German Shepherds are mostly favored in today’s military.

Training animals in law can be time-consuming, but very much worth it. All of the dogs trained to be a part of either the Police K9 units, Fire-police, or Military are trained at tremendously high levels of obedience. They are expected to follow both verbal and hand commands. Dogs in the military are sent to training for roughly 2-3 months before being sent to fight. Police dogs are trained in agility, tracking, evidence searches, open area building searches, and narcotics and/or explosive detection (National Police Dog Foundation, 2018).

Police dogs are never trained to locate both narcotics and explosives because they would not be able to communicate which it has found to the officer. The discovery of narcotics and explosives must be approached differently which is why it is immensely important for the officer to know what the dog has found. This training also takes a few months and usually costs between $12,000 and $15,000 for each dog depending on the duration of each class (National Police Dog Foundation, 2018). Fire-police dogs are trained to ignore normal burning products that would be present at most fire scenes and respond passively until told to show the firefighter where the odor of the chemical is located. They will do this by pointing its nose or patting its paw in the direction of the odor. Fire-police dogs often live with their partner so that it doesn’t interfere with the training, which really never ends, as they are always learning on the job.

Based on the information provided, it is clear that canines play a big part in helping our communities and keeping the public safe. Police dogs save the lives of many people by getting some narcotics off the streets, which makes a few less overdoses possible and incarcerating criminals who have already harmed people who plan on harming people or animals. Compared to humans at a 59% success rate, a canine has a 93% success rate in locating people, narcotics, and other pieces of evidence (National Police Dog Foundation, 2018). fire-police dogs/acceleration detection dogs have made locating the causes of fires much easier and quicker. While military dogs have been able to provide protection to fellow soldiers and perform jobs that are extremely risky, and ones that a human could not perform as easily and efficiently. There are many reasons why these dogs in law enforcement are so significant to this world.

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Animals in Law Enforcement . (2022, May 02). Retrieved from

Animals in Law Enforcement 
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