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An inside look at the Tucson Police Department's K-9 unit

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-13 09:37:09-05

Every day dogs in the K-9 unit are on the front lines serving the community. 

The Tucson Police Department currently has nine dogs in their K-9 unit and they say they only choose the best dogs to train into officers. 

During the span of about 16 weeks, TPD will train the dogs along with their officers so they learn the necessary skills before going out on patrol for the department. 

Sergeant Paul Sheldon supervises the K-9 unit and says not any dog can be successful at this job. 

"Not every dog is built for this job and its got to come from the dog. We can teach it a bunch of things but you can't teach it how to want and go do this hunt."

Sheldon says the dogs are always with them and officers can decide to either live with their dogs at home or outside in a kennel. 

"It's literally with you 24-7 and then you're like, 'get away for five minutes', and you you can't, they love us and we love them. We all talk a big game like they're just a tool that we're more than willing to send in than an officer, which is true but we're not going to be very happy when we have to do that." 

Officers will train the dogs in the language of their origin like German or Czech, mixed with English commands. 

Since the 1970s, three dogs within TPD's K-9 unit have lost their lives on the job. 

When it is time for the dogs to retire, the officers have the choice of keeping them.

"I have never heard of a handler not keeping their retired dog. They're not just partners at work, you're with them more than you're with your family, your family ends up close to them."

At the end of the training the officers and dogs become partners and share a special bond both on the streets and at home.