POLICE Magazine

DEC 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1058219

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Page 52 of 60

50 POLICE DECEMBER 2018 BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT K-9 "Rush" died on October 1 as a result of exposure to chemicals while clearing a build- ing in late September. K-9 "Fang" of the Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff's Office was fa- tally shot September 30 while attempting to apprehend an armed carjacking suspect. On September 1, the Refugio County (TX) Sheriff's Office lost two treasured partners—K-9 "Grunt" and K-9 "Nell"— when both dogs were strangled to death by a suspect they were tracking. at's four police K-9 fatalities in one calendar month. So far in 2018 at the time of this writing, the Officer Down Memorial Page has recorded 21 K-9 duty deaths. Four have been fatally shot. One was ejected from a patrol vehicle in- volved in a collision. Others have been struck by vehicles. Two K-9s died in "hot car" incidents this year. ankfully, "hot car" K-9 duty deaths are down this year. Eight K-9s died from heat exhaustion last year. Twelve dogs died this way in 2016. Law enforcement K-9s are an ex- pensive asset for their agencies. It can cost up to $10,000 to purchase a police K-9, and another $20,000 in initial training before the animal can be put out on patrol. en there is the annual upkeep: food, shelter, veterinary care, continued training, and even dog toys used as rewards. However, one cannot place a dollar value on a police K-9—they embody the very definition of invaluable. Police K-9s routinely help police officers return lost at- risk children to their homes. ey find illegal narcotics. ey sniff out hidden explosives. ey apprehend fleeing fu- gitives. Myriad law enforcement missions are accomplished with the assistance of a four-legged LEO. Police K-9s need human help in protecting them from in- jury and/or death. is help primarily comes from the K-9 handler, but the department can have an enormous impact on K-9 safety. For starters, departments can make budget dollars avail- able for K-9 vests. Most officers don't have the resources necessary to purchase a bullet/stab-resistant vest for their K-9 partners, so it should be an accepted related cost for the agency to fund those purchases. If your department simply cannot make those funds available, check out Project Paws Alive (www.project- pawsalive.org), a 501(c) non-profit organization that helps to fund the purchase of K-9 vests. ey also help agencies ob- tain K-9 first-aid kits, cooling vests, and oxygen masks, and patrol vehicle heat alarms. Speaking of vehicle heat alarms, the National Police Dog Foundation (www.nationalpolicedogfoundation.org) has a program that agencies can turn to for help in receiving grants for K-9 vehicle heat alarms. Further, departments can equip K-9 handlers with Nal- oxone kits especially designed to save K-9s from accidental overdose from exposure to heroin, fentanyl, or other opi- oids. In early August, a deputy with the Clackamas County (OR) Sheriff's Office helped save the life of K-9 "Abbie" after the dog was in- advertently exposed to heroin spilled from a container. Finally, departments can help han- dlers by funding regular visits to the vet, purchasing high-quality food— ordinary kibble is not sufficient for a working dog—and other seemingly ordinary expenses. Ultimately, the health and welfare of a K-9 falls on the shoulders of the dog's handler, but those officers can use a little more help from the agency—and the community—they serve. e bond between a K-9 handler and "man's best friend" is truly unique. A police K-9 is not just a member of the de- partment—that dog is also a member of the handler's family. Handlers and their K-9 partners basically spend their lives together—off duty and on—for many years. Most handlers keep their dogs after the animal is retired from active duty. When a police dog dies in the line of duty, the emotional impact is just as difficult—albeit decidedly different—as when a human partner is killed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the handlers who have lost their K-9 partner this year and in years past. is column is dedicated in honor of those fallen K-9s and their handlers. Doug Wyllie is contributing web editor for POLICE. PREVENTING K-9 DUTY DEATHS Guest Editorial Ultimately, the health and welfare of a K-9 falls on the shoulders of the dog's handler, but the officer can use a little more help. DOUG WYLLIE J MOST OFFICERS DON'T HAVE THE RESOURCES NECESSARY TO PURCHASE ARMOR FOR THEIR K-9 PARTNERS, SO IT SHOULD BE AN ACCEPTED RELATED COST FOR THE AGENCY.

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