How to Adopt a Retired Police Dog

Four Methods:Finding a DogFollowing Proper Adoption ProceduresCaring for Your Retired Police DogResearching Types of Dogs

Retired police dogs are not always available for public adoption. The dog's training and work experience can make them a liability for police stations, since they can be aggressive and potentially dangerous for untrained civilians. You may be able to adopt a dog that started but did not complete its training. Also, if you had police or military training yourself, you may be able to find a police station that is willing to let you adopt a retired police dog. If you decide to adopt a retired police dog, it's important to find the right dog for you, follow the proper adoption procedures, care for your dog, and know about the types of dogs that become police dogs.

Method 1
Finding a Dog

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    Search for a place that has retired police dogs in need of adoption. There are a number of places you can find police dogs to adopt, including law enforcement agencies, non-profit agencies, and shelters.
    • Contact your local police department. They may not have any retired police dogs available for adoption, but may be able to get you in contact with some places that do.
    • Look into law enforcement agencies that work with police dogs. Law enforcement agencies such as the National Police Canine Association, the North American Police Work Dog Association, and the United States War Dog Association may be good places to start.[1][2][3]
    • Check online ads. Sometimes retired police dogs may be available on websites such as K-9 Classifieds.[4]
    • Contact non-profit organizations and animal shelters that specialize in locating retired police dogs that need adoption. Think about adopting a retired police dog as a rescue from places such as Mission K-9 Rescue or Universal K-9.[5][6]
    • Contact branches of the military. Working military dogs also need homes after they’ve completed their service.
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    Expect difficulty in finding a retired police dog available for adoption. Retired police dogs are often not available for adoption by the public due to their unique training.
    • Keep in mind that many retired police dogs are not available for public adoption because their training can make them dangerous for civilians to handle. They may be housed with their former partners after their "careers" are over.[7]
    • You might find a dog with a police or military background who wasn't suited to the job. These dogs may still retain some of their initial training.
    • Realize that even if you are able to find a dog, there’s a long wait. If you want to adopt a retired military dog, for example, you may wait 6 months or more.[8]
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    Be persistent when contacting an adoption agency. These agencies are very busy. Additionally, it takes a long time to adopt a retired police dog, so it’s important to get started early.
    • Find an agency near you. Try to find an adoption agency in your area if possible. It will be easier to adopt the dog if it’s nearby.
    • Visit the facility where the retired police dog is kept. See where the dog is kept, since that may tell you something about the dog’s healthy and safety.
    • Visit the dog if possible. You may be able to visit the dog you wish to adopt. Try to get to know the dog and see if it’s a match.

Method 2
Following Proper Adoption Procedures

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    Be prepared to fill out the required paperwork and pay the required fees. It is a long process to adopt a retired police dog. Be patient and prepared to follow all the necessary steps.[9]
    • Fill out the initial application form. For former military working dogs, this is often a 2-page application to determine the best families to match with the best dogs.[10]
    • Be ready to interview with police or military staff. You’ll be interviewed to see if you’re prepared and ready to adopt a retired police dog.
    • Provide evidence of financial resources to take care of dogs. You may have to show that you are financially capable of providing for the animal that you adopt.
    • Demonstrate skills to handle retired police dogs. Show that you have the necessary temperament to handle police animals. If you have military or police training yourself, that may be beneficial.
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    Meet the dog. If you’ve been approved as a good match for adoption, you may be able to meet the dog. Visit the dog where it currently lives. Find out if the dog's a good match for you.
    • Go to the military base if you’re adopting a military working dog. You will likely be matched up with a dog that meets your family situation, lifestyle, and interests.[11]
    • Go to the police department or animal shelter if you’re adopting a retired police dog. Police dogs nearing retirement may be kept with their partner for the time being.
    • See if you’re a good match with the dog. Interact with the dog to get a good handle on its temperament. If you feel uncomfortable with the dog, it may be best not to adopt.
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    Prepare your home. Once you’re approved to adopt a retired police dog, start preparing your home. Think about how you can provide enough outdoor and indoor space for your adopted pet.
    • Make sure you have a fenced-in yard. Retired police dogs are trained to attack if necessary. Keep your dog and your neighbors safe.
    • Make your home police dog friendly. If your dog will spend time inside, make sure there are no stray wires it could trip or chew on. Get rid of any other indoor dangers for your new dog.
    • Talk to your family. All your family members need to be aware of the the benefits and dangers of owning a retired police animal. In general, it’s best not to adopt these animals if you have any children under the age of 5 or have other animals like cats.[12]

Method 3
Caring for Your Retired Police Dog

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    Expect retired police dogs to be aggressive. Since it’s part of their job, many police dogs will be aggressive. Be prepared for an aggressive dog and make allowances for this.
    • Consider dogs with varying temperaments. When you adopt, the adoption agency will try to match a dog with the right temperament to you. Be honest about what you’re comfortable and uncomfortable with.
    • Take care of your adopted dog like you would any other dog, but make sure that you make allowances for its quirks. Retired police or military dogs have to adjust to civilian life. It will take time for them to feel comfortable in a home.[13]
    • Keep your family safe. Most organizations will typically not allow a family with cats or children under five to adopt a retired police dog. Know that your police dog can be aggressive towards pets or children.[14]
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    Be able to deal with trained animals. Taking care of a retired police dog requires a combination of firmness and understanding. If you’re not used to being around dogs or have never trained dogs, a retired police dog may not be for you.
    • Read about the problems of a retired police dog. It may also be useful to talk to the dog’s former handlers as well.
    • Talk to dog trainers about how to handle trained dogs. They may be able to offer some useful tips for you when you welcome the dog into a new home.
    • Be prepared to deal with aggression. Know the ways to handle an aggressive dog and the best ways to calm them down.[15]
    • If you are an inexperienced dog handler, you might want to reconsider getting a police dog. Don’t try to handle a retired police dog if you are uncertain of what you’re doing.
    • Get the police dog a new home if you cannot handle it. It’s important to give the dog a good home even if that’s not with you.
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    Expect your dog to pursue and protect. Your retired police dog is trained as an officer of the law. Be prepared to deal with situations where this training might come out.
    • Police dogs are trained to protect. This may be property or a person, but know that retired police dogs will attack if they think the thing they are protecting is in danger.
    • Police dogs are trained to pursue. They will go in pursuit of things that appear to be a threat. Keep your retired police dog away from anything that they may be encouraged to chase down.
    • Be wary of strangers around your dog. They may try to protect you if they think any strangers are a threat. Show your dog that any strangers are friendly to you and to your dog.
    • If threatened, police dogs will attack. Be prepared to control your dog in the case of attempted attack. Do not let your dog attack someone, since that may lead to the dog being put down.
    • Be prepared to be flexible. A retired police dog is going to have some quirks.

Method 4
Researching Types of Dogs

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    Learn about the common breeds of retired police dogs. Not all breeds become police dogs. Realize the different types of dogs that may be available for adoption. Some of the most common breeds include:
    • German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds are often used as police dogs.
    • Less popular breeds include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, and Bouvier de Flandres.
    • Labrador retrievers and bloodhounds are also used for detection or trailing.
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    Be aware of the different types of working military dogs (WMD). Working military dogs have specializations that may dictate their skill set. Military dogs are trained to serve as:[16]
    • Search and rescue dogs that find missing people, things, or potential suspects.
    • Detection dogs that find illegal substances, especially drugs and explosives.
    • Arson dogs that seek out any potential chemicals at arson crime scenes.
    • Cadaver dogs that find dead bodies.
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    Get the facts about retired police dogs. Police dogs have been in unique circumstances. It’s important to know some important information about them before adopting one.
    • Most healthy police dogs retire at 10 years of age. Realize that means a retired police dog will not live as long as a newer dog, especially a puppy.[17]
    • Many police dogs are imported from Europe. However, training and consistent bloodlines has made police dogs more common to be born in the United States.
    • Police dogs usually live in a kennel when they’re not working. They sometimes live in a house, but may not be used to it on a regular basis.
    • Police dogs have intensive training in either patrol training or narcotics or explosive detection. Patrol training includes obedience, agility, tracking, and searching for evidence in buildings and open areas.

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Categories: Choosing a Dog