POLICE Magazine

APR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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12 P O L I C E A P R I L 2 019 Y ou're a K-9 handler and it's time for your four-legged partner to retire. So now what? How do you retire a police dog? ere is much training and instruction provided when you first take on a K-9 as a partner. But what about when the dog will no longer be used because of old age, health issues, budget cuts, or promotion? ere is comparatively little advice and training given to K-9 handlers regarding a dog's retirement. e first big question to ask is, who owns it? Beyond that, does the dog stay insured? Who pays the vet bills? ese and more are concerns shared by the handler and the agency. I have never known of a handler to give away their retired dog. Other than the military or private security, most departments allow handlers to keep their retired dogs. Sometimes they may transfer the dog to a new handler in the case of a handler's promotion, transfer, or resignation and such, but older or injured dogs almost always go with their handler to live out the rest of their lives. erefore, it's necessary to set up a plan for how to handle this transition, in the best interest of everyone involved. With that in mind, here are the important issues to iron out ahead of time. TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP e issue of who owns the dog in retirement needs to be ad- dressed. A simple bill of sale showing that the handler has paid the agency a nominal fee such as $1.00 to officially pur- chase the dog can clear up this issue. Departments would be wise to decide how they will handle the situation long be- fore the potentially emotionally charged time of a K-9 retire- ment. Handlers in particular might be caught in a state of emotional attachment and may elect to adopt the dog no matter what. Retirement time is not the best time for either party to try to negotiate the K-9's retire- ment stipulations. Along the same lines, other things to be considered ahead of time when calm- er heads should prevail include a stipend for the dog that would include food for life, routine annual medical care (pre- ventive inoculations, heartworm and flea control medication, etc.), and per- petual care for any on-the-job K-9 inju- ries. ese costs add up over time. HOME ISSUES Once the dog's ownership has been de- cided, how the dog will spend its days must be determined. Now that the dog will no longer spend most of its time with the handler, who will care for the dog while it is at home and its former handler is presumably away at work? Are there other family members who can han- dle this dog? Does the dog even get along with the family? What about strangers or friends com- ing to the house? Is someone there who can deal with the dog especially if it is protection trained and becomes aggres- sive upon the sight of a visitor? Other questions needing to be addressed include wheth- er there are other dogs or ani- mals at home and if the retired dog can cope with them. Will there be a new police dog in the house to replace the retired one? Do these two dogs get along with each other or will each day bring new drama and dog fights? Is there a "quiet" or "private space" for the retired dog to rest and get away from The K-9 and officer handler relationship is very strong and often continues after the dog is retired. PHOTO: DAVID FERL AND PHOTO: ACE K9 RETIRE A POLICE K-9 HANDLERS AND AGENCIES SHOULD DECIDE EARLY ON WHO WILL BE TAKING ON WHICH COSTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR A DOG RETIRING FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK. H DAVID "LOU" FERLAND HOW TO...

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