JoAnna Lou
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From Shelter Pup to Police Dog
N.Y. State trains homeless canines to join the police force

Recently, I was reading about a superstar police dog and discovered a really cool fact—about one-third of New York State's police dogs are rescues.

This particular German Shepherd, Sgt. Harry J. Wheeler, was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn eight years ago. Fortunately, he was taken in by Glen Wild Animal Rescue, which thought his keen perception and protective nature would make him a great police dog. Soon after Sgt. Wheeler was enrolled in a 20-week training course with the New York State Police canine division and now serves in Binghamton, N.Y.

During his years on the job, Sgt. Wheeler has helped find six bodies in police investigations, including locating the body of a missing boy that police had been unable to find for months. This find led to the murder suspect's conviction.

Training rescues to assist the police is a win for the homeless dogs, the police and the community. There's no question that Sgt. Wheeler is one talented pup, proving that shelter dogs really can do anything!

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by the New York State Police.

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