When it comes to police dogs, most people think of German Shepherds, but the state of New York now has a different kind of K9 officer on patrol.
Kiah, a Pit Bull, was picked up as a stray in a grocery market parking lot. Sporting a serious head wound, she was brought to the animal shelter, her history unknown.
That’s where Brad Croft met her for the first time. He is the Director of Operations for Universal K9 – a non-profit organization that rescues and trains shelter dogs for law enforcement agencies. Thanks to a grant from Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) and a collaboration with Austin Pets Alive!, Croft’s mission was to find rescued Pit Bulls for their program.
Having trained hundreds of dogs, Croft knew right away Kiah had the temperament to work with law enforcement. She wasn’t fearful, even when surrounded by strange smells and loud sounds. She was confident and energetic, and she was also able to fixate on a toy for a long time.
The grant enabled the City of Poughkeepsie to add Kiah to their police department at no charge. Normally, the cost of buying a purebred dog and training both the dog and handler can add up to $20,000. While this may seem like an amazing offer, some agencies simply refuse to work with Pit Bulls.
Misconceptions about the breed exist everywhere, but the truth is that Pit Bulls, like many other dogs, become aggressive due to bad owners. Bernice Clifford, Director of Behavior and Training at AFF, believes in treating each dog as an individual, as oppose to making assumptions about behavior based on breed or history. “Let them be dogs,” she says to The Dodo.
Kiah is a smart, spirited dog, who also happens to be a Pit Bull, and thanks to several amazing organizations, she is now also a member of the police force. Her handler, Officer Justin Bruzgul, graduated with her back in November 2015.
In an interview with The Dodo, Croft says that “Kiah is one of the top three dogs I’ve ever placed.” This four-legged superhero may be chasing down criminals but she also gets to break stereotypes every single day.
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