SFPD Canine Unit.jpgWhere do the SFPD’s bomb-sniffing dogs sleep at night? Do they get things like chew toys, treats and belly rubs?

For some reason I envisioned all of the SFPD dogs sleeping together, All Dogs Go To Heaven style (wasn’t there a scene with a bunch of dogs hanging out in a room together? Maybe not. I blocked most of that movie out because it traumatized me as a child).

Sgt. Ron Banta set me straight: All SFPD dogs are matched up to officer handlers based on the skill level of both the officers and dogs. The handlers are responsible for the well-being and care of their dogs: the dogs sleep with them, eat with them, and play with them. Well, not too much playing goes on.

“It’s difficult not to treat the dogs as pets, but they’re working dogs,” said Banta. “It’s a completely different relationship.” That means that dogs are on strict feeding schedules and don’t receive many snacks or treats because “the dogs need to know who their master is: a police officer.” Banta did say that the handlers occasionally allow kids to feed the dogs snacks while out and about.

Some more SFPD dog trivia: The majority of police dogs are used for patrol support – chasing suspects down, finding hidden suspects, etc. The second most common use for SFPD dogs is SWAT team support. Fewer dogs are used for the detection of drugs and explosives.

Photo: SFSU

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