Police Canine Resources Threatened By Red Tape

All over the US canine Police units are shrinking due to… you guessed it: lack of funding and red tape:

‘Canine units, which many view as an invaluable resource, are dwindling nationwide as some departments grapple with financial constraints, several handlers said. Southern York, for instance, used to have four canine units, but is now down to one, Siggins said.

In addition, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find police officers who want to take on the commitment of being a handler, Siggins said. To stay certified, the handler and dog must train for 16 hours a month. That doesn’t take into account all the training the handlers do on their own time, since most, if not all, dogs live with their handlers.

Because he’s the only K-9 officer in the department, Siggins said he gets calls at all hours of the day and night. Some police officers may not want that inconvenience, he said.

Russ Hess, executive director of the U.S. Police Canine Association, said he hasn’t noticed a decrease in membership among his nonprofit’s roughly 3,000 members, but he understands how some smaller departments may not be able to afford the luxury.

“They just don’t exist without the training,” Hess said. “Training is a cost and when budgets start getting slim and government starts downsizing, auxiliary training and services get cut.”

It’s not just smaller departments.

Harrisburg police rely mostly on donations to support its five K-9 units, Officer Ty Meik said.’

You’ve heard that right. The unit relies ‘mostly on donations’. Maybe they will need to bask on the streets or learn the dogs to ‘beg’.

This is not a trifling matter because police dogs are an invaluable (and sometimes irreplaceable) law enforcement resource. I have written here about how a canine unit made possibly apprehension of Australia’s most wanted criminal after years on the run. If this were to happen in the US the situation may have been much more frightening.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

2 comments

  1. Sally

    Thank you for calling to attention the plight of many K-9 Units in the United States. I’m involved in some fund raising activities for a K-9 Unit. It’s a difficult task because people assume that their tax dollars cover this. Under normal circumstances, it would, but not when the city is on the verge of bankruptcy. As the economy worsens, so does the support of what is perceived by the public, and unfortunately government administrators, as being an unnecessary expense. So few realize that using K-9s is cost effective, as the dog’s ability to track and search is superior to that of a human. According to the New Hampshire Working Dog Newsletter, “One team of three dogs can thoroughly search an area of one square mile in three and a half hours. It would take 88 humans to search the same size area in the same amount of time and with the same rate of success.” It is nothing but shortsighted to cut the funding of these units.

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