POLICE Magazine

APR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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14 P O L I C E A P R I L 2 019 commotion? Some dogs retire and are still very active. ey need physical as well as mental stimulation. It is difficult for a dog to go from 100% one day to zero the next day and adjust properly. While the dog may have made a terrific working partner, many make lousy pets, mean- ing they need frequent exer- cise and attention to burn off their DNA-embedded drives. ese dogs in most cases still want to work even though they may not be able to work to the standards we'd need them to at a law enforcement agency. e handler was able to provide an outlet for this energy mostly at work but who will do this now that the dog is no longer riding in the cruiser and getting all that attention? It might not need 100% at- tention like before, but going straight to zero will make for a hard adjustment. Remember, you want to create a kind and welcoming retirement for the dog. One option for managing this tran- sition is a gradual retirement in which the dog works at a part-time rate and is gradually left at home more and more as an adjustment over time. Some han- dlers have even had their retired dogs work for private security firms. For ex- ample, a narcotics detection dog could work eight hours a week for an inde- pendent security company that offers parents an off-duty handler and trained dog to sniff out their kid's room for a fee. Or it could search a used car for a pro- spective buyer to make sure it doesn't contain any drugs left behind by the previous owner or from use in an undis- covered smuggling operation. If the retired dog is otherwise em- ployed, independently of the police department, how will the dog maintain its training and certifications? Will the handler still have access to the law en- forcement agency's training aids? Ac- cess to trainers? Is it clear that the dog is no longer employed by the police de- partment and is not being marketed in violation of department rules or ethics? Be clear in policy and in action what is allowed and what will not be tolerated. LIABILITY AND INSURANCE How about insurance? Will the han- dler's homeowner's insurance cover the retired police dog? Many homeowners' policies don't cover breeds that are considered "dan- gerous dogs," which includes all Ger- man shepherd dogs. What if the dog also start a "Friends of the Anytown/ County Department" non-profit foun- dation set up specifically to help pay for the expenses of their retired dogs. e agency can make a "donation" each year to this foundation to help care for its re- tired K-9s. ese non-profit foundations are relatively easy to set up and more of- ten than not, businesses and citizens are quick to donate to these types of causes. HELP It's a good idea to research your situation and to seek out additional help, especial- ly if you're concerned about whether you'll be able to take your K-9 home with you when it retires. For example, Robby's Law, passed in 2000, allows federal dog handlers first refusal in adopting their police dogs. Before this law, their dogs were treated as sur- plus property to be either eu- thanized or sold to the highest bidder. ere are also the Retired Police Canine Foundation and the National Police Dog Foundation, both of which specialize in providing funds for retired police dog care. Many states also run K-9 foundations to help with police dog retirement. Last but not least, the han- dler also needs to be responsible and prepare for the retirement of their dog starting with the first day they get the dog. I know a K-9's eventual retirement is not something you want to consider, but the reality is that the dog will most likely become a "pet" at some point and proper planning will bring about a bet- ter solution for everyone. Dr. David J. "Lou" Ferland is a retired New Hampshire chief of police with ex- tensive K-9 training experience who cur- rently serves as the national executive director of the United States Police Ca- nine Association (USPCA). He acquired his Doctoral Degree from Franklin Pierce University and is a subject matter expert in university program development, the field of K-9, and criminal justice. Dr. Fer- land can be reached by e-mail at David- FerlandK9@gmail.com . HOW TO... Agencies that field K-9 units need to plan for how the dogs will be cared for after they have aged out of active duty or been medically retired. accidentally bites someone on the property? Is it clear that the police de- partment is not liable? Is it clear that the handler will be protected under some other insurance policy? Maybe this private insurance is paid for by the agency in a K-9 retirement stipend (this stipend could also include food and medical care money). Perhaps the department continues to cover the dog in retirement for liability issues. Seek out sound local legal advice because laws regarding pet dogs vary across the country. ONGOING EXPENSES Usually the most expensive years of pet dog care occur in the animal's last years. Veterinarian visits, medicines, special foods, surgeries, joint problems, and such all heap expensive bills upon a family. Is there going to be a way for the dog to receive this expensive care in its old age? Will the department be opened up to horrible community scrutiny if people perceive that it has neglected the dog in retirement? ere are several national non-profit foundations set up to assist retired K-9s. If they haven't already, departments can PHOTO: ACE K9

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