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Tag: handler

National monument honors dogs in combat

monument

The United States’ first national monument to military working dogs was dedicated at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Monday.

The nine-foot tall bronze statue, built with private funds, features four dogs and a handler and is inscribed with the words “Guardians of America’s Freedom.”

Lackland is home to the U.S. Armed Forces center that has trained dogs for all branches of the military since 1958.

The sculpture features dogs of four major breeds — Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and Belgian malinois — and honors all those who have served in all branches of the military over theyears.

You can learn more about the memorial, how it came to be, and donate to the cause here.

(Photo: Benjamin Faske / U.S. Air Force)

Police dog dies when left in patrol car

spartacusA 3-year-old police dog in Woodstock, Georgia, died this week from heat stroke after being left in his handler’s patrol car.

Spartacus, a Belgian Malinois trained in narcotics detection and tracking, was found dead Monday night inside the car, which was parked outside his handler’s home.

The unidentified officer, a 9-year veteran of the department, was placed on paid leave, a police spokeswoman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The spokeswoman said Spartacus was the second K-9 assigned to the officer. The first, after retiring, became his family pet and still lives with him.

In addition to an internal investigation, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to the officer’s home Monday night, is investigating the dog’s death.

A necropsy determined the cause of death was heat stroke.

Police dog left in car perishes in Alabama

A police dog in Alabama died Friday after his handler left him inside a patrol car between shifts, police said Monday.

The internal affairs divisionof the Montgomery Police Department is investigating the incident, a spokesman said.

The officer has been transferred from the K9 division and could face further discipline depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The dog, named Urso, was laid to rest Monday.

Police said the officer had driven Urso to the Police Department’s kennel mid-morning Friday, but “just forgot” to check him into the kennel. The officer returned to the kennel for his next shift at 8 p.m. and found Urso dead inside the vehicle.

A police spokesman said the officer, who wasn’t named, is “emotionally devastated” by Urso’s death, which is believed to be heat-related.

Urso, a German shepherd, joined the department four years ago after being trained at a facility in North Carolina.

Escaped Norwegian Army dog found at Dulles

qondorQondor, a Norwegian Army patrol dog who somehow escaped from his crate before a flight at Dulles International Airport and disappeared,  has been  found and reunited with his owner, the Washington Post reports.

Qondor, a 21-month-old Doberman, is a specialist in the Norwegian Army. He focuses on patrols and is being trained in explosives detection. Qondor and his handler, Captain Gunn Anita Fossli, flew into Dulles last Wednesday for a dog training course in northern Virginia, according to NBC 4.

Their original flight back to Norway was canceled because of the volcano in Iceland. On Wednesday night they were offered a new flight, Qondor was missing in action. He somehow escaped from his crate at about 10 p.m.

Airport officials drove Fossli around the 12,000 acre complex to the places Qondor was spotted Wednesday night, but the search was called off because “it was dark and the fog was coming.”

Early Thursday Qondor was found, briefly escaped again, and was recaptured again before boarding a flight home to Norway.

Officer who left 2 dogs to die in car is fined

A police dog handler in the UK has been found guilty of animal cruelty for leaving two German shepherds to die in the back of his car on one of the hottest days of last year.

Mark Johnson, of the Nottinghamshire police, was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a fine. The judge called it “an extremely difficult case” which reflected poorly on the force’s attitude to officers with mental health problems.

Prosecutors said the animals – Jay-Jay and Jet – died in “excruciating pain” after Johnson ­forgot he had not taken them out of his vehicle on June 30. The dogs died – possibly within 20 minutes of being left in the car– from heatstroke, The Guardian reported

Johnson, 39, said he was severely depressed and was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder when he left the dogs in the car. He said his illness had caused him to forget that the animals were still in the car as he sat down to do paperwork at Nottinghamshire police’s headquarters.

District judge Tim Devas described the dogs’ deaths as “sad and regrettable”, but criticized the police department for failing to help an officer struggling with depression.

“I feel a police officer has been let down … (T)his is a dreadful error of judgment brought about by an illness way before it happened and PC Johnson should have been given more help … I cannot believe that in the 21st century, depression and men crying is so abhorrent to an institution that nothing can be done about it,” he said.

An assistant chief constable of the Nottinghamshire police said dog handlers must now take their animals directly to kennels on arrival at work and that a system was being piloted alerting handlers to temperature changes inside vehicles.

Partner remembers his police dog, Blek

Harris County Deputy Constable Ted Dahlin, whose police dog, Blek, was strangled by a burglary suspect last week, says he shared a special bond with the five-year-old shepherd and considered him both his partner and best friend.

“It’s a big commitment, not just for the handler, but for the dog as well,” Dahlin said. “They say the dog picks the man. The personality of the handler is the dog’s and vice versa.”

Blek was trained to find people and sniff out explosives. Dahlin said his precinct spent about $13,000 for the dog and the training. Dahlin spent six weeks in Indiana learning how to handle the dog, including how to give commands in Czech.

Blek, on the job for more than three years, ran into a wooded marsh in North Houston in pursuit of a burglary suspect last week. When Blek did not come back, Dahlin and other officers began searching for him, according to a report in yesterday’s  Houston Chronicle.

“My lieutenant and sergeant found him,” said Dahlin, with whom the dog lived. “My sergeant met me before I got there, held me back, and gave me a hug. I knew at that point what happened.”

Cornelious Harrell, 17, is accused of choking the dog Dec. 22 after police interrupted a burglary. He has been charged with burglary and interference with a police service animal, a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

In court Monday, prosecutors said Harrell choked Blek from behind after the dog cornered his 15-year-old brother. Prosecutors said the brothers and three other suspects were fleeing the scene of a burglary.

Navy dog handler’s hazing under review

rocha“An atmosphere of sexual harassment, psychological humiliation and physical assaults.”

It may sound like a description of Abu Ghraib, but what’s being characterized is the U.S. Navy’s Military Working Dogs Division in Bahrain, better known as “The Kennel.”

An internal Navy investigation into the unit found dozens of examples of hazing and sexual harassment against multiple sailors between 2005 and 2006, including the case of Joseph Rocha, a gay sailor who left the Navy in 2007 after being abused for two years. Rocha says the constant hazing he received while serving as a military dog handler led to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., has asked the Navy for information about the harassment, the still mostly under-wraps internal investigation, and an explanation of why the head of the military working dog unit at the time was promoted.

Sestak’s letter followed a story about the Navy findings of abuse — reported not by the mainstream media, but by Youth Radio, a California organization that teaches reporting, broadcast journalism and media production to youth from public schools, community-based organizations, group homes and juvenile detention centers.

The Youth Radio investigation found that between 2004 and 2006, sailors in the Military Working Dogs Division — on the island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf — were subjected to an atmosphere of sexual harassment, psychological humiliation, and physical assaults.

A Navy spokesman said the allegations are being reviewed.

“The incidents that occurred within the Military Working Dog Division at Naval Support Activity Bahrain do not reflect who we are as a Navy,” said Cmdr. Cappy Surette, a Navy spokesman. “The Navy is now looking into the handling of this situation more carefully.”

Rocha – despite the Navy’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy –  was repeatedly asked if he was gay, primarily because he didn’t  avail himself of visiting prostitutes.

Shaun Hogan of Maine, a former Bahrain colleague of Rocha’s who is now a reservist, said Rocha was treated worse than others because it was believed he was. Hogan said some in the unit “blatantly asked” if Rocha was gay. It was Hogan who obtained the Navy’s report and shared it with Youth Radio.

“He was one in a large number of people who were abused for a variety of different reasons,” Hogan said.

Rocha’s PTSD prompted him to tell the Navy he is gay, at which point he was discharged.

(Photo: via Youth Radio)