Labrador Retriever from Loudoun Shelter Joins N.Va. Police Force


(Monday, April 9, 2007 7:44 AM EDT)

From problem pet to police pooch, a puppy from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter is set to join the ranks of the Arlington County Police Department's K-9 program.

Arlington's K-9 program started training explosive-detection dogs in mid-January, but one of their original dogs didn't make the grade in training.

The department turned to Loudoun County Animal Care and Control for a potential “bomb-sniffer,” and the staff pinpointed a mixed Labrador retriever named Chewey as a possible candidate.

“We actually have a few agencies that look for working dogs and Arlington looks for active dogs that are really motivated by toys,” said advanced animal care and training coordinator Jennifer Swiggart. “He was non-stop and so focused on his toys. That's what they were looking for.”

The Loudoun staff's premonitions were right, and the Lab - now named Koda - is set to be certified by the U.S. Police Canine Association.

“We called the Loudoun Animal Shelter, and they were very helpful,” said Arlington Police Capt. Kevin Reardon. “They realized that this is the kind of dog that needs to work. Their expertise was incredible.”

Once certified, Koda will work when there are specific bomb threats; during times of heightened security levels; or when bomb sweeps are needed at events such as the Marine Corps Marathon.

The Labrador retriever will be with handler Officer Brian Morrison at all times, riding along with him in the patrol car and coming home at night.

Finding good homes or work for unwanted dogs is the shelter's goal, and reaching that goal is satisfying.

“We get a lot of dogs that aren't pet material. They're really intelligent, they just have to have something to do. I like to see animals placed where they need to be,” Swiggart said. “When the officer called to tell me that Koda was going to be certified, it was very exciting.”

Koda, shown here with his handler, Arlington Police Officer Brian Morrison, was rescued from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter, and is set to become certified as an explosive-detection dog.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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