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Just about everyone loves to be around a dog and this is evident when one looks at the long list of interested law enforcement personnel who wish to be assigned to a K-9 unit. History shows that dogs have been used for law enforcement as early as the middle Ages. When Jack the Ripper was terrorizing London, Bloodhounds were used to try and track the serial killer down although the attempt was unsuccessful. The first official police dog unit was started in Belgium in 1899.

There are some breeds of dogs that make better law enforcement dogs, mainly due to their increased olfactory senses and the ease with which they can be trained. Bloodhounds are the most often used dog for tracking criminals or lost people. Beagles are used to detect illegal substances or explosives at airports due to their friendly appearance; they tend to worry passengers much less than a Rottweiler or German Shepherd would.

Dogs who are muscular in appearance such as the German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Rottweiler help to chase and hold suspects until police arrive, and maintain public order if necessary. Because of their outstanding sense of smell, Bassett Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Foxhounds are superior in detecting explosives, weapons, or poison, and can be used by TSA for patrol in airports. Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds and German Shepherds have such a unique sense of smell that they can find human remains under water. The nose of a Bloodhound is larger than other breeds and as such their finding can be admissible in a court of law. They are excellent trackers and unlike other types of hounds will remain silent while on the trail so their prey is not alerted to their presence.

After attending the academy and receiving their certifications, police officers who wish to be part of a K-9 unit must first be on patrol a minimum of two to three years before being considered for a K-9 position. A dog that is being considered as part of a K-9 unit will begin its training at one to two years old, and it will be subject to a variety of tests to determine if the dog is appropriate for police work. Once an officer has been assigned a K-9 partner, both must undergo a complex training program before hitting the streets for patrol.

A dog that has been accepted in the police program and assigned as part of a team will live with their human partner during their life of service. If a human officer is retired from the force before his K-9 partner is ready to retire, the K-9 partner will be re-trained for another handler. However, if the dog is close to retirement age it will often times be given to the human partner that it has worked with, to live out its life within familiar surroundings.

A dog loves to please and to protect, and this trait is evident in the world of law enforcement. There are many instances where a dog has taken a bullet while chasing a suspect or protecting his partner. Dogs will give humans all the love they can give, and all they ask is that we humans do the same.

Dogs: To Serve and Love Is Their Mission Credit Picture License: Alain Picard via photopin cc