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.
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 8 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 is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.