Houston Public Transportation Bush Airport
K-9 Dog, Police Dog, George Bush Airport, Houston, Texas, United States, North America
A police dog, often referred to as a “K-9” (which is a homophone of canine), is a dog that is trained specifically to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in their work. The most commonly used breed is the German Shepherd, although Belgian Malinois are also used. In many jurisdictions, the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony, subjecting the perpetrator to harsher penalties than those in the statutes embodied in local animal cruelty laws, just as an assault on a human police officer is often a more serious offense than a similar assault on a civilian. A growing number of law-enforcement organizations outfit dogs with ballistic vests, and some even designate dogs as sworn officers, with their own police badges and IDs. Furthermore, a police dog killed in the line of duty is often given a full police funeral. Some breeds are used to enforce public order by chasing and holding suspects, or detaining suspects by the threat of being released, either by direct apprehension or a method known as Bark and Hold. German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois are most commonly used because of their availability; however other dog breeds have also contributed, such as Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Giant Schnauzers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers. Police dogs are retired if they become injured to an extent where they will not recover completely, pregnant, are raising puppies, or are too old or sick to continue working. Since many dogs are raised in working environments for the first year of their life and retired before they become unable to perform, the working life of a dog is 6–9 years. If these dogs are killed in the line of duty they get the same honors as their human partners. The handler makes all the decisions regarding their partner. The Belgian Canine Support Group is part of the country’s federal police. It has 35 dog teams. Some dogs are trained to detect drugs, human remains, hormones or fire accelerants. About a third are tracker dogs trained to find or identify living people. These teams are often deployed to earthquake areas to locate people trapped in collapsed buildings. The federal police’s explosive detector dogs are attached to the Federal Police Special Units. Police dogs are in widespread use across the United States. K-9 units are operated on the federal, state, county, and local level and are utilized for a wide variety of duties, similar to those of other nations. Although most Americans perceive these animals as attack dogs, their duties generally include drug, bomb, and weapon detection and cadaver searches. The most common police dogs used for everyday duties are German Shepherds, though other breeds may be used to perform specific tasks. On the federal level, police dogs are rarely seen by the general public, though they may be viewed in some airports assisting Transportation Security Administration officials search for explosives and weapons or by Customs and Border Protection searching for concealed narcotics and people. Some dogs may also be used by tactical components of such agencies as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Service. Most police agencies in the United States – whether state, county, or local – use K-9s as a means of law enforcement. Often, even the smallest of departments operates a K-9 team of at least one dog, while the officers of more metropolitan cities can be more used to working with dozens. In the former case, police dogs usually serve all purposes deemed necessary, most commonly suspect apprehension and narcotics detection, and teams are often on call; in the latter case, however, individual dogs usually serve individual purposes in which each particular animal is specialized, and teams usually serve scheduled shifts. In both cases, police dogs are almost always cared for by their specific handlers. K-9s are not often seen by the public, though specialized police vehicles used for carrying dogs may be seen from time to time. In most states, a police dog is considered a full-fledged police officer, sometimes even given a badge. As such, most laws find assaulting a police dog to be equal or very similar to assaulting a human officer, and as a result some agencies will deem it acceptable for officers to open fire on a person who is intentionally hurting a police dog, with apparent attempt to kill it. Police dogs also play a major role in American penal systems. Many jails and prisons will use special dog teams as a means of intervening in large-scale fights or riots by inmates. Also, many penal systems will employ dogs – usually bloodhounds – in searching for escaped prisoners. Dogs have been used for law enforcement since at least the Middle Ages.