Retired police dogs don’t just suffer from the ‘normal’ ailments associated with aging, but also the serious wear and tear that comes from years of rigorous training and working.
When a Police Dog reaches the time to retire, either through reaching their retirement age or due to illness or injury, there is a huge decision for their handler to make. Do they retire their courageous, faithful and loving partner to themselves or do they need to try to rehome them?
The bond between a working Police Dog and their handler is indescribable and therefore the tough decisions for the handler are very often surrounded by an immense emotional feeling. There are so many factors which need to be considered by the handler when making the decision to retire their dogs to themselves – it’s not always a case that the handler can take on the dog as their pet.
Whilst every handler would love, without question, to have their faithful friend as their pet – sometimes it is in the dog’s best interests for him to be rehomed. Handlers and dogs literally spend their lives together – there is no real ‘time off’ for a dog handler. Their dogs are with them 24 hours a day.
Many questions have to be considered by the handler when deciding where the dog will live his life in retirement:
How will the dog cope being left at home while the handler leaves to go to work?
How will they feel seeing their handler leaving to go to work with another dog?
Is there anyone around at home while people are at work or will the dog be left on his own?
Will the dog get on with their ‘replacement’ Police Dog?
Is it fair on the older dog to have to put up with a younger dog filling his paws?
These are just a few of the considerations on a practical level – all of which have to be answered with the huge emotional tie handlers have towards their faithful partner.
Should a handler decide that their faithful partner would have a more enjoyable and comfortable life elsewhere, there is then the big question as to where their dog goes. A suitable family home needs to be found for the dog and this can be a long and emotional time for both the dog and handler.
No matter where the dog retires to, one overriding issue which is present for both the handler and the adopting family, is the huge potential burden of ongoing medical care and treatment.
Retired police dogs don’t just suffer from the ‘normal’ ailments associated with aging, but also the serious wear and tear that comes from years of rigorous training and working, including arthritis, hip and knee injuries, torn ligaments, back and spinal problems.
This has a huge bearing on the decision a handler must make when their dog retires. Not only do they need to consider the practical side of living with their retired dog, but also the medical requirements and ultimately the financial implications of the ongoing treatment and care of the dog.
While on active duty, West Midlands Police provides for the health care of their working canine partners. When a Police Dog has become unsuitable for Police duties – either due to their age or due to illness or injury – the Police Dog is retired from active duty. At the point of retirement, any of the dog’s ongoing care and treatment has to be paid for by whoever cares for the dog in retirement. Unfortunately, there is no Police ‘pension’ for our Retired Police Dogs.
With no help or funding from Police forces, and the inability to obtain insurance for their dog, handlers have a big decision to make. Once again, the emotional side of the decision is hard to ignore, they have spent a lot of their lives together with their dog – often spending more time with their dog than their human family – however in a lot of cases the financial considerations could take precedent.
It’s absolutely heartbreaking for handlers to have to make this decision – especially if it purely comes down to the financial implications. It’s a heart wrenching decision and very often handlers will do everything they can to fund the cost of keeping their faithful partner. This can lead to spiralling debts and financial hardship for families.
The creation of the Retired WM Police Dog Benevolent Fund will help handlers make decisions with the sole aim of ensuring their retiring dog has the most rewarding, comfortable and enjoyable life in retirement. Making it less about finances and more about the dog’s quality of retirement.