The recent coverage in the Daily Mail has again prompted discussion on what happens to the dogs that keep us safe when they become ill or retire. The rose tinted version of a dog living its life out by the fireside of its handler is far from the truth. I am writing this as the founder of Bravo Working Dog Rescue and as someone who has worked alongside working handlers and rescued these dogs for years.
They are NOT “attack” dogs, working is a game. Yes, some are sharper than others and it was their boldness and in some cases, their over confidence that meant a pet life was unsuitable for them. However, as we have proved many times over 18 years, these dogs can often go through rehab and retire safely. Even the search dogs can struggle into a pet life. They have often lived in a kennel, are used to working all day and need some basic housetraining and an ongoing outlet for all that brain power.
I have watched keyboard experts on facebook telling people these “attack dogs” shouldn’t live in houses, that they will definitely bite and all sorts of other rubbish. I have also seen assertions from people that their local force definitely doesn’t put dogs down, they all live with the handlers. In many cases I can prove it isn’t true.
Many dogs do retire safely, but lots don’t and the private security industry is worse in my experience. I created Bravo because there was an increase in the number of dogs we were being asked to help. Reading the story about the patrol dogs on the RAF base that Prince William was at until recently being pts was upsetting. Last year I met someone who told me his rescue had been asked to take some Ministry of Defence retiring dogs. He told them to talk to me as we were the experts. They didn’t so I contacted them repeatedly. Not once have they come back to me and now I read they are still putting dogs down.
Whilst not all of these dogs can be rehomed, with no requirement for independent assessment or any kind of rehabilitation, these dogs stand no chance. Unless the Police and MoD work with us nothing will change.
I have had several rows with Police forces about the lack of checks and contracts done for people buying their failed and retiring dogs. One Inspector said to me “we aren’t a f*****g rescue” my reply was “then let a f*****g rescue do it”.
I have had to recover sold on dogs who have bitten, have seen them sold on for profit, bred from, all sorts of things. It could be done better yet it isn’t.
I have many handlers in Police, MoD and private companies I work alongside and some are friends. Some have helped the rescue dogs privately over the years and helped me to save some. All these people I thank for all the help they have given me and the dogs, smuggling some to safety in a few cases.
We struggle to maintain Bravo with no help from the industry with the exception of 1st Reaction Security in Northants who are fundraising this year. If you want to help Bravo, you can donate via paypal using email@example.com