Rescue Pit Bulls Become K9 Officers For Local Law Enforcement

RIVER VALLEY, Ark. (KFSM) — Three law enforcement agencies in our area are adding new team members to help get drugs off the street, all while saving thousands of dollars.

The new K9 officers are not your typical police dogs though, they're all rescue pit bulls like Hype, the newest addition to the Barling Police Department.

Hype has been with her partner, Officer Donald Rowe, for a little more than two weeks.

The two-year-old pit-mix came from a shelter in New York. That's where she was found abandoned. The marks on her body are the only traces left from her past.

"You say pit-bull and people get scared. She's a lovable gentle dog. All she wants to do is work and lay around and play. She loves to play with the ball," said Rowe.

Traditional police dogs like German Shepherds can cost police departments more than $10,000, but thanks to a grant from the Animal Farm Foundation these dogs are provided for free.

Wes Keeling, the founder of the dog training program Sector K9, says this an opportunity to change negative stereotypes associated with the breed.

"This gives me a chance to change that and say hey it's not the dog, it's not the breed of the dog, it has nothing to do with that," said Keeling.

Hype and her partner just completed two weeks of training in Dallas, Texas. The pair graduated along with officers from Johnson and Franklin counties.

Like other dogs in the program, Hype has what's called a high play drive.

Rowe hides a substance from Hype for her to find, he then gives her a command, and her job is to sniff out the odor.

She's been trained to detect five different types of narcotics.

Rowe says she has the run of the department and will make a big impact on the community. He says she's already part of the family and hopes other people consider adding to theirs.

"I'm hoping working her and showing her, and how she is with the community, that people will get up and go out and adopt these dogs. They're no different than a poodle," said Rowe.

The program which launched in 2016 has sent out more than 40 dogs into duty around the country.

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