Shelter dogs to be trained as police K9s

Four shelter dogs that were destined to be put down got a new chance at life Friday. A K9 training group plans to prepare them to work for police departments across the nation.

One day before a pit bull mix named Remi was set for euthanization; she was adopted by universal k9. She is now a fully-trained narcotics and tracking dog. She works for the Palestine Police Department in East Texas. Corporal Wesley Keeling is her handler.

"She actually tracked two suspects with a large amount of dope that had tried to run over two of our officers and was able to track them down in a barn and it was 100 degree heat never stopped," said Keeling.

Remi is one of 150 dogs Universal K9 has adopted from shelters.

The company trains dogs for police and the military. Operations director, Brad Croft, says the company first started using pure bred dogs from overseas, as most commonly used for K9 work. They go for $20-thousand dollars apiece. He got the idea to try a much more cost effective approach by training shelter dogs.

"Really, any dog can do this work. It doesn't take a German Shepard, it doesn't take a lab, any dog can do police work all they need is the chance to do it," said Croft.

On Friday Croft adopted four dogs from the Austin Pets Alive shelter. All were pit bull mixes which can be the most difficult to place in homes.

"That large blocky-headed, short-coated dog, that's the dog that again there's the image problem and we see that we just see a ton of them here in Austin," said Mike Kaviani with Austin Pets Alive.

"Usually the dogs that nobody wants as a pet because they're high energy, those dogs usually get euthanized, but those dogs are excellent for this type of work and we're seeking those dogs," said Croft.

Two dogs will go to departments in Williamson and Bell counties. The other two will head to Florida and Ohio. To Austin Pets Alive--that's four more lives saved.

"They're safe and sound with us, but we know that they're going to be happier going out and doing that work and we place them we can save the next dog off the euthanasia list at the city shelter so it's a trickle-down effect," said Kaviani.

The dogs adopted Friday had been at the shelter anywhere from almost a year to two years. All were set for euthanization at the city shelter before being moved here to Austin Pets Alive.