Dogs have long been used around the world to help police officers protect the peace. Whether a manhunt, a search for a missing person, drugs, bombs, or a response to full scale tragedy, K9 units are now so much a part of the police force, that in the U.S., many dog have their own police badges and IDs. Several different breeds of pups are regularly used in police operations—the most common being German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Beagles are often brought to airports for missions like sniffing for explosives; Bloodhounds are know to find everything from cadavers, bombs, and drugs; and the Bernese Mountain Dog is good at locating missing people.
One of the first real attempts to use dogs to help solve a crime and apprehend a criminal was in 1888 when two Bloodhounds were given simple tracking test set by the Metropolitan (London) Police, to help the with the hunt for Jack the Ripper. It didn't go as planned, with one of the hounds biting the Commissioner and both dogs later running off, requiring a police search to find them, but it paved the way for the future of canine cops. Here's a roundup of five of the most famous hounds in police history. Know any pawed police that should be on this list?
Rin Tin Tin was a former police dog discovered by an American solder on a battlefield in France in 1918. After the war he was brought to the U.S. where he went on to star in 122 films, a TV series, and produce 48 pups or mini Rin Tin Tins.
Mattie, a black Labrador retriever with the Connecticut State Police, was the first operational accelerant detection dog in the country, and possibly in the world, when she went on duty in 1986 for 11 years. She was trained to sniff out evidence of arson. She could identify 17 different accelerants in the aftermath of a a fire, and was even able to identify the suspects among the onlookers after an incident.
Cloud II was one of the most famous police dogs in Canadian history. In a brief four-year career, Cloud II and his handler, Constable Ray Carson, captured 123 fugitives and found countless missing children and lost hunters. According to the National Post, "The dog’s most famous takedown occurred in December 1973, when he and Mr. Carson followed two juvenile offenders to an ice hut on the outskirts of North Bay. Cloud II stormed into the hut and emerged moments later with a loaded rifle. Mr. Carson reported getting 'quite a shock,' as he did not even know the suspect was armed. Before the night was over, Cloud II also forced another youth to drop his knife."
Appollo was a fearless German Shepherd, part of the NYPD, and one of the first dogs to learn search and rescue. On the morning of the September 11, 2001, Appollo was a first responder at the World Trade Center. He searched through burnt debris, ignoring charred paws, cuts, and other obstacles to look for survivors and victims. For his efforts he was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest honor for the work of animals in war.
Another 9/11 hero, Sirius was the only dog to perish in the cleanup efforts. A four-year-old yellow Lab with a knack for sniffing out explosives, Sirius was buried when the South Tower collapsed.
And a shout out to all the K9 units in Watertown and Boston that were deployed to locate the suspects and left over explosives after the Boston Marathon bombing.
This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Get to Know Your Local Police. Follow along and join the conversation at good.is/citizenship and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.