While I was training with my own service dog, I met a police officer working with a group raising money for bulletproof vests for K-9s.  I thought this was very odd.  Why would you need to raise money for these K-9s to have a bullet-proof vest?  Don’t police departments supply them for these brave working dogs?

The answer was surprising.   Since K-9s are classified as equipment, you don’t purchase equipment for equipment.  I learned that they are not cared for by their agencies after retirement.  If injured, they may not get needed treatment if the veterinary costs are too high.  Often the bill is given to the handler to save the K-9.  If no funds are available, then the dog is euthanized.  

That enraged me. I started the National K-9 working dog, and developed the Police K-9 Bill Of Rights. The Police K-9 Bill Of Rights is important for several reasons for our nation’s Police K-9s.   Most people believe that these Police k-9s retire and are cared for following their important work. It is the furthest from the truth. 

Their police officer handlers love them and care for them out of their own pockets.  However, Police K-9s are classified as equipment, like a desk or handcuffs. They do not receive any medical benefits when retired.  If Police K-9’s are injured and retired, the bill often goes to their human partner to pay. 

This bill attempts to honor these brave canine police officers by trying to protect them.   . These K-9 heroes don’t ask for much for protecting our freedom and keeping us safe.  How can we not repay them by providing the veterinary care they need after retirement? The bill would also take the financial burden off of the K-9 officer/handler who often has a family and children.  They shouldn’t have to decide who gets the needed care, the dog or the family.

Vet bills are costly.  Just as older people need more care and medicine, so do these K-9s who retire at age 70 to 90 in human years.  Many have continuing veterinary issues following injuries sustained in their work on behalf of humans.

The NK9WD Bill of rights it won’t cost the public or any budget.  It won’t cost the K-9 officer/handler to pay for any of these benefits. Services would be funded via drug asset forfeiture. These K-9s find the illegal cash and drugs, thus keeping drugs off the streets.  Why not give them 10 to 20% of these seized funds by amending the asset seizure laws of the 1994 Crime Control Act to include providing bullet-proof vests and after-retirement veterinary care? 

The Police IK-9 Bill of Rights calls for the following:

PROPOSAL: The Police K-9 Bill of Rights

SUMMARY: To create a bill relating to quality of life care and treatment of K-9 Police Officers both during their service and after their retirement.


1)      Provide medical benefits for retired police K-9s to include veterinary care, food and other items for their wellbeing for the remainder of the dog’s life. This requirement is effective upon the transfer of ownership of the dog from the law enforcement agency to the former handler or adopter of the dog.

2)      Reclassify Police K-9s as canine law enforcement officers, not as equipment.

3)      Provide cremation services for dogs that have retired from the agency’s service.

4)      Police K-9s will receive the benefits of safety equipment while on the job such as bulletproof vests; paw protectors, and other equipment to help them in their daily job functions.

5)      Provide Finial Rest services to include cremation and recognition of service.

FUNDING: By amending the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, and re-directing 2% of the cash seized by a police K-9 into a third party general fund to pay for medical benefits for retired police K-9s. This third party fund can be administered by multiple non-profits already concerned with the welfare of police K- 9s.


Police K-9 – Any dog that is owned by or employed by a law enforcement agency for the principal purpose of aiding in the detection of criminal activity, enforcement of laws, and apprehension of offenders; or the detection of missing persons, including but not limited to persons who are lost, trapped under debris as the result of a natural, manmade or technological disaster; or are drowning victims.

Retired Police K-9 – A canine law enforcement officer, who can no longer work due to age or a medical condition, who has officially had its ownership transferred from the law enforcement agency to its handler removing him from active duty.

Law Enforcement Agency – A federal, state or local agency or political subdivision having primary responsibility for the prevention and detection of crime or the enforcement of the penal, traffic, game, regulatory, or highway laws of any state and local agency if its agents and officers are empowered by law to conduct criminal investigations and make arrests.

Veterinary Care – Services provided by a licensed veterinarian or a specialist referred by a licensed veterinarian to include, but not limited to, annual wellness exams, vaccines, internal and external parasite prevention, testing and treatment for illness and disease, medication, emergency care surgeries, and euthanasia.

To download a copy of the complete bill the link is http://nationalk-9workingdog.org/bill-of-rights-downloads/.

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Jay Meranchik has been a animal handler and trainer for almost 50 years, A pioneer in field of pet assisted therapy, seeing the many things dogs can do to help us in our lives. Now it is time for us to help them to be reclassified from equipment to a living officer with medical benefits in retirement. How can we judge our humanity, if we as a nation consider police K-9s equipment.