To absorb more than $30 million in cuts, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department had to focus almost exclusively on answering 911 calls, but police dogs and their handlers survived the cuts. The Associated Press reports that it’s a scenario that is playing out among the thousands of K-9 teams across the country that have survived deep budget cuts to stay on the job. Dogs are winning the popularity contest. In a few towns where K-9 dogs were cut, citizens rallied to raise money to keep the animals at work.
There are other advantages to keeping animals on the job. They protect the officers they work with, do jobs that people can’t and use bites, not bullets. “When you look at the tremendous savings in man-hours that are achieved by using trained dogs to search for suspects or victims or narcotics or explosives, it’s very easy to recognize the fact that they are the probably the most cost efficient tool we have,” said Officer Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Dogs can run faster, get into tighter spots and look more menacing than most humans. They have stronger noses, better hearing and better vision, at least under low light conditions. “They are so valuable, so important to what police officers do,” said Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in Urbana, Il.