Get Working Dogs From Shelters—Not From European Breeders!

Why does the United States military — and various police departments around the country — continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars per dog to buy potential working dogs from Eastern Europe?

Not long ago on Dog Talk®  I spoke to Dr. Karen Overall at the University of Pennsylvania vet school on the topic of the high cost to our police departments and military of continuing their practice of buying untrained dogs from overseas. Dr. Overall is overseeing a program to breed high quality working dogs right here in the U.S. However, this will take some time to get up and running as a reliable source of these much-needed canine workers.

Universal K9 (logo) Right now, there’s someone doing something with rapid results to bring more working canines into the community — while saving the lives of dogs in shelters. Brad Croft thinks we’re wasting valuable money and time in the United States when our shelters are full of canine candidates that can be transitioned to work with the military or a police force. Croft founded Universal K9, a company that  identifies dogs in shelters who would be good prospects for police work — especially those high-drive, high energy dogs who didn’t work out as family pets. Where purebred young dogs imported from Europe cost $10,000-$20,000 each (and still require extensive training), Croft says dogs from shelters are an inexpensive and highly effective resource to help combat crime. Each shelter selects dogs to be donated to the program based on their personality traits. Traditionally, the Universal K9 detection dogs cost approximately $3,000-$6,000 each, factoring in the professional training period that usually takes eight weeks.

This week on Dog Talk®  I talked to Brad Croft about how he goes to shelters seeking these high-drive dogs and shapes them into valuable working dogs. Universal K9 exists solely to save dogs from shelters to train them for law enforcement and detection work, as well as for military veterans.

Brad also runs the Detection Dog Program at Animal Farm Foundation, where their mission is to secure equal treatment and opportunity for “pit bull” dogs, many of which Brad has taken from Animal Farm Foundation to transition into important work with law enforcement. Using AFF’s philosophy that all dogs are individuals and should not be categorized because of their breed, Universal K9 trains the dogs to prepare them to work with police departments helping them detect drugs, explosives, and weapons. Universal K9 has already placed 46 of these dogs from the Animal Farm Foundation Detection Dog Program into the field in a number of police departments across the country,  where they are assisting police officers in fighting crime — while getting a new lease on life.

—Tracie Hotchner

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