All dogs are not created equal. Some make great family pets. Others struggle to fit in and wind up at the shelter. But that doesn’t always its mean the end of the road for these canines. With the right training, many of these shelter dogs can be save and, in turn, save lives.

While K9 units typically use either German shepherds of Belgian Malinois for police dogs, there are plenty of other breed that work well on the job. Labrador retrievers, beagles, bloodhounds, pit bulls, and even mixed breed have keen senses and make good police dogs. The key characteristics needed are obedience, focus, and high energy. Also, having a keen sense of smell and sight help their ability to track down missing objects.

A 6-8 week training program is the starting point for many shelter dogs. They may, however, require up to a full year of training before they are ready to be paired with an officer. Dogs that are often overlooked ad family pets may have a dark fate if not for this training program. Now they get a second change at life and have an important purpose.

In some cases, they get a sixth chance at life. This was the case with one shelter dog who was returned to the shelter five times and deemed unadoptable before joining the K9 Police Unit in Rhode Island. Ruby was an eight-month old border collie/Australian shepherd mix with too much untamed energy. One officer saw how he could utilize her high energy level. After six months of training, she was able to handle scent work.

In 2017, Ruby helped track and save a missing teenager who needed medical attention. She became a police hero that day, but her work didn’t end there. She continues to work with the police department and there is a movie about her heroism, titled “Searchdog.”

Other heroic police dog stories include dogs performing CPR, dogs leading children back to safety, detecting explosives, finding flood victims, and the list goes on. The possibilities are endless and there are grants to provide training to the shelter dogs who show promise.

The KP dog training programs save the lives of shelter dogs, who in turn save the lives of people whiel in the line of duty. The bonus is that it saves the police department money in the process. Specialty bred K9 dogs can run as high as $25,000. But a shelter dogs costs around $200 and can be ready for the job after roughly a year of training.