(View more images in our Photo Gallery.)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. The Van Buren County Sheriff's Office has a Canine Unit consisting of four K-9 Deputies each partnered with highly trained dogs. The four canine teams are all assigned to the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Patrol Division with 24/7 routines and general patrol functions; including answering general calls for service, but also have the capability and responsibility to deploy to any scene in which those teams are needed.
About Our Canines
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. Belgian Malinois are becoming the new standard due to their size and strong work ethic.
They are among the most loyal and steadfast officers of any police force. They are highly trained and immensely dedicated. And they are usually the only police officers that are routinely called "adorable." They are the four-legged officers of the K-9 unit, and whether they are searching for missing children or sniffing out suspicious packages, they are part of a longstanding tradition that extends back thousands of years
Because of their more sophisticated roles in day-to-day police work, K-9 officers undergo training that is in many ways more intense and rigorous than the training received by human officers. Often, this training begins not long after they are separated from their mothers. A police dog is teamed with a human handler, and the dog and the officer will work as a team. To forge a bond between dog and handler, the police dog usually lives with his officer's family. This not only encourages loyalty, but it helps to ensure the dog remains friendly and sociable.
What most civilians don't realize is that K-9 officer are truly considered full-fledged police officers. Assaulting, injuring, or killing a K-9 officer carries the same punishment under the law as the same crimes committed against human officers. In fact, some law enforcement agencies consider it acceptable for human officers to open fire on a suspect that is intentionally hurting a police dog with the intent to kill it. Dogs killed in the line of duty are afforded a complete police funeral, bagpipes and all.
While many civilians think that the ballistic vests and badges often seen on K-9 officers are merely cute, the fact is that these dogs are both needed and respected by their handlers and other members of their force.