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Friday, 11 January 2013

Retired Police Dogs

There's been quite a few of our 'Tweeps' & our friends, who have recently had their trusty & faithful Police Dog's retire. Very often we're asked, what happens to the dogs when they retire?

It's a really heart wrenching time for handlers, when it comes to the point that their trusty & faithfully 4 legged partner has to hang up their working lead. We always talk about D-Day with our pups & how difficult it is, but when working Police Dogs retire you can multiply 'puppy D-Day' by anything you want, & you won't get close to the roller coaster of emotions that handler's go through.

I've said before, the bond between working dog & handler is unexplainable & you cannot compare it to anything.

It's such a massive decision for handlers at the point their working dog retires. There are so many factors which now come into play.

We've seen over the past number of months, the full spectrum of scenarios handlers face & the routes handlers have taken, when their faithful dog comes to retirement.

We've seen handlers who's dog has retired & become 'family' dogs & some who have been retired to new homes. We've also seen, more recently, cases where dogs have retired & people have struggled to find suitable new homes for them. It's such a shame.

Sussex Police Dog Max - needed a new family home

There's dogs who have retired due to old age & others who have retired early due to ill health, & the odd few get retired due to accidents or injuries sustained whilst 'on the duty'.

There's so much for handlers to consider when their dog retires & it's not always just a case of them retiring as family dogs.

Recently retired PD Duco enjoying life in his new retirement home

Whilst it is extremely heartbreaking for handlers to have to re-home their retired dog, sometimes it is the only option - & sometimes it's also the fairest option for the dog & for the ongoing quality of life for the dog. 

If the dog is used to being out & about everyday with his handler - how will the dog cope with being at home 24/7? If the handler & their family all work during the day - is it fair to leave the dog all day on his own? How about if the dog doesn't get on with the new working Police Dog - is it fair to have to manage the 2 dogs if they do not get on? Is it fair to have the older dog stressed due to the arrival of a new dog? The list of possible circumstances & scenarios, when dog's come to the end of their working life, is endless.

Recently retired Max - now trying to adjust to retired life with  his handler

There's so many considerations & factors that need to be considered. There's so many variables & different circumstances which dictate the route handlers go down with the retired dogs. Sometimes it a real head versus heart decision too.

Similarly there are many considerations & hurdles to overcome when trying find a suitable home for a retired Police Dog. How many people are willing to take on an 8 year old dog? Add, an 8 year old dog with health problems & you have a real difficulty in finding a suitable home. Sometimes just putting the word 'Police' in front of dog, makes it really difficult to re-home too!

It's heartbreaking for handlers. Having to give up their best friend after so many years working together is heart wrenching. Their dog will have saved their life, protected them from bad things, & ultimately served alongside them keeping their - & your - communities safe. Now they are in a position where potentially they are going to be parting ways.

PD Penny retired today (10/1/13) & is going to a new home

So finding a new home & making the decision to retire their dog to a new home is not one which is taken lightly. I know every handler would definitely keep their trusty friend if the circumstances allowed. However not always do circumstances allow.

For anyone taking on a retired working Police Dog as a family dog - whether their handler or a new family - it is a MASSIVE commitment. Not only a massive commitment from a time & family life aspect, but also from a financial point of view.

Once the dog's are retired from Police duty, there is no ongoing financial help or support for them. They, quite simply, are pensioned off with a pat on the head & a little tummy tickle if they are lucky. Police Dog Janus was lucky & got an enormous juicy bone!!

So for handlers there's a real head versus heart decision to make, especially if the dogs are suffering with illness of injury. Like I said, every single handler would, without question, keep their retired dog as a family pet if circumstances allowed. 

However, as I also said, sometimes circumstances don't always allow this to happen. 

Sometimes these circumstances could boil down to financial decisions. A handler simply may not be able to afford the ongoing care & veterinary treatment the dog needs. It's not possible to insure Police Dogs & certainly not retired Police Dogs, so every penny of care required is paid for out of their own pocket. Unfortunately not everyone can afford to take on this financial commitment & the decision is made to try to find a suitable home who can cover such costs.

PD Rex has been with his handler since he was 6 weeks old & will retire to him

It's absolutely heartbreaking for handlers to have to make this decision - especially when it purely comes down to cost. It's a heart wrenching decision & very often I know handlers will do everything they can to fund the cost of keeping their faithful partner.

The majority of handlers do keep their retired dogs as 'family dogs' & with it they take on the ongoing financial implications of now having their 'own' dog. 

Dogs will sometimes have been retired due to illness or injury, which could have occurred during active service. Whilst operational, the dog's treatment & general ongoing costs are covered & paid for by the Force, however once the dogs are retired this now becomes the handler's responsibility.

PD Vero staying with his handler

Similarly, anyone re-homing a retired Police Dog will also be in the same boat & will take over the ongoing cost of care for the dog.

So it's not always a rosy time for handlers when their dog retires. As well as the emotional side of seeing their faithful partner retire, with it also comes the big decisions handlers need to make on the future of their dog & to ensure the dogs get the best ongoing quality of life  in retirement.

So we want to wish all of those retired dogs featured above, & all Police dog's either retired or retiring, the very happiest of retirements!! I hope they are all enjoying hanging up the harness & passing on the lead to the new kids on the block!



  1. Thinking about when a police dog retires, and in fact when it is operational, where does the handler take it for exercise? Are they able to go to the park like 'ordinary' dogs, or would that put people at too much risk of getting bitten (or falsely arrested!)?

  2. i have 2 retired ex police dogs now, i would say it is very dog specific, one of mine will never run around the park and be ordinary the other is fine. I would say you can take the dog out of the police but not police out of the dog in the short term. They take around 6 months to unwind. They are pleasure to have, but do require some effort and time to readjust. You get nothing with them so a fully committed and experienced home is needed.

  3. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Thanks!
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