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Establishing A Successful K9 Unit

K9 Units in Small Departments

K9 Units in Small Departments:
Overcoming Budget Constraints for Forming and Maintaining the Unit. A Thesis presented to the Faculty of Mount Olive College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration
David Eric Anderson

Approved by: _______________________________ Date: _____________
Project Thesis Advisor: Prof. Mike Bumgarner
Cohort #17 Wilmington, North Carolina

K9 Units in Small Departments:
Overcoming Budget Constraints for Forming and Maintaining the Unit.
David Eric Anderson

David Eric Anderson is presently employed by the Wilmington International Airport Public Safety Office, Wilmington, North Carolina, as a Police Officer. Attaining the rank of Lieutenant in 2005, David supervises the “C” shift which operates from midnight to 8:00 am. The Public Safety Office provides law enforcement support, aircraft fire fighting and rescue response, and medical assistance to the airport and surrounding area. David has worked with the Public Safety Office as a Public Safety Officer, Field Training Officer, K9 Officer, and a supervisor since 2002. David holds an Intermediate Law Enforcement Certification, North Carolina Law Enforcement Instructor Certification, and has completed training as a Field Training Officer, K9 Officer, and the North Carolina Justice Academy Police Law Institute. He is currently completing his degree in Criminal
Justice Administration at Mount Olive College. David lives with his wife, Beverly in Wilmington, North Carolina. After graduation, David hopes to seek a Master’s Degree to help further his criminal justice career. David would like to teach criminal justice courses at a local college.

This research provides guidance to the administrators of police departments with less than twenty-five sworn law enforcement officers when forming and maintaining a K9 unit. Budget constraints are always a key focal point for police administrators. This information will give ideas for overcoming monetary issues. A sample of 22 professionals in both administration and K9 units were surveyed using questionnaires developed by the researcher. Four informal interviews were conducted with selected K9 experts. All subjects where chosen by convenience. Findings show that K9 units may be proportionately expensive for small departments to develop and maintain, but offer an invaluable asset to even the smallest department. Money is available to help relieve some
of the financial burden; the key is simply knowing where to find it. More research is recommended in this area.

Keywords: K9, Administration, Budget, Canine, Police.

Table of Contents

  • Personal Information Page ii
  • Abstract iii
  • Section 1. Introduction 1
  • Section 2. Literature Review 3
  • Section 3. Research Methods 15
  • Section 4. Research Findings 17
  • Section 5. Conclusions and Recommendations 22
  • References 23
  • Tables and Charts 25
  • Appendices 27

Section 1


There are situations that are unique to small law enforcement agencies. One unique concern, despite the agency’s size, is budgeting. An agency will always need one more officer, one more patrol car, or have a liability suit pending. The focus of this research study will be small agencies comprised of twenty-five or less sworn law enforcement officers. This research study will help small agency administrators make clear decisions when considering forming a K-9 unit. This study will provide insight to the challenges that may, or may not, be faced and the rewards available from a well received unit.

Challenges include, but are not limited to, public and municipal government approval, funding, handler and canine selection, labor standards, sustainment issues and many others. The rewards include improved public perception, decrease in crime, and increased department moral, to list a few. Strategic planning ought to address environmental and community challenges and expectations. Eden (1993) explains that while cutting costs is difficult, it is a necessary “evil”
with any size agency budget. He adds that being conservative with training costs, which may include training courses, in-service training, or associated equipment, will only put the program and department at risk of liability. During the past two decades, law enforcement officials have confronted budgetary concerns influencing their organization’s resources and ability to mobilize
strategic plans for the purpose of combating crime and distress (Bumgarner & Sjoquist, 2
1998). The utilization of police dogs has been instrumental in the ongoing conflict between collaborative social actions, budget concerns, and crime (Charles, Henych, & Wolf, 2002). The problem this study will address is grounded on budget constraints and the formation and maintenance of police K9 units in small law enforcement agencies. The lack of small agencies having the ability to form and sustain K9 units may, or may not, have an adverse effect on a department’s ability to effectively deter or prevent acts of crime and antisocial behavior.

Section 2

Literature Review

Hess (2006) states that canines are one of the fastest growing tools for police to use in the fight against crime. Canines can be used in narcotics detection, bomb detection, tracking, arson detection, and as patrol dogs. Canines can be trained as single or dual purpose dogs. Hamilton (2003) adds that some might think a canine unit in a small department is unnecessary. There are many reasons why having a K9 unit with a department, no matter the size, makes sense.
A few definitions should be addressed before moving forward to give a universal understanding of terms. Hess (2007) has given then following definitions: Patrol dog – a service dog selected by the trainer and qualified by recognized standards to perform basic patrol functions. The tasks of property detection and tracking are tasks of a patrol dog; Detector dog – a service dog selected by the trainer and qualified by recognition standards to perform searches for hidden substances, including narcotics and explosives; Dual purpose dog – a service dog selected by the trainer and qualified by recognized standards to perform two distinct functions, traditionally, these functions include general patrol and another specific type of detection; Certified – A K9 team meeting the performance standards of the police department or law enforcement agency. Certification is recommended no less than once an annual schedule.


Many articles have been written on the use of canines in police departments. A few articles, specifically addressing cost analysis, have also been written. When dealing specifically with small departments with less than twenty-five sworn law enforcement officers, few articles have been found. This may be due to small budgets that do not allot for professional analysis. By specifically targeting small departments, unknown options may be available to assist these administrators when faced with the question of starting a K9 unit.


Imagine a 19th century constable walking the beat in the bustling cities of Paris, London, Berlin or New York. At this time the only weapon the constable had at his disposal was a night stick. On-duty injuries and deaths became a topic of great concern. Criminals armed with knives or pistols were quick to take advantage of the meagerly armed constable. At this point in history, German Shepherds were used as farm dogs (Thurston, 1999). Wallentine believes that dogs were being used as tools long before this and refers to ancient Egyptian papyri, which is several thousand years old, shows that dogs were used as law enforcement tools during that time.

In 1896, Dr. Ham Gross had a cutting-edge notion for decreasing the injuries and deaths of constables patrolling the night beats by teaming them up with canine partners. In his book, Yearbook of the Austrian Constabulary, Gross referred to canines as “ideal, ever-watchful companions of the constable in his arduous official rounds, gifted with senses far more acute than those of his master.” Law enforcement officials throughout Europe loved Gross’s idea and quickly implemented canines into their agencies.


Van Wesenmael, the Police Chief of Ghent, Belgium stated “I am not certain that a night policeman dare intervene when he sees a crime committed by several criminals. I am certain that in the future, when the service of night-dogs is organized, their success will be brilliant.” Three years later, in 1899, Wesenmael added 70 “night-dogs” to his police force. The result was astounding, arrest rates went up and police casualties dropped to an all time low. The next ten years brought about trained and certified dogs by the thousands working in many European cities (Thurston, 1999).

German Shepherds were revered as the best fit for a law enforcement canine. The American Ernest Baynes referred to them as “staunch, loyal and conduct themselves with quiet dignity equaled by few.” Police dogs fell into one of two categories in the first years in service, Executive Dogs or Criminal Trackers. Executive Dogs were used as bodyguards, which could disarm and restrain a fugitive until arrested. Criminal Trackers were exactly that, canines with scent-tracking skills. German courts allowed the work to be entered as evidence (Thurston, 1999). In the United States during the 1800s, when municipal police departments first began using canines, Gardener (2001) claims, the ideal was a dog so vicious that he had to be muzzled at all times except when on chase or attack.

Major Edwin Richardson was a British canine trainer and president of the Berlin Police Association. He toured Europe, visiting canine training centers in 1907. While in Berlin Richardson “witnessed a murder trial in which the ‘testimony’ of a police dog was entered into evidence” (Thurston, 1999). Richardson wanted to change training protocol using positive reinforcement because he felt the canines where “exceedingly savage”.


Richardson wanted police dogs to “release on verbal command”. Newfoundland had implemented non-aggressive dogs along its riverbank to assist people who fell or jumped into the water (Thurston, 1999). The trend in police canines has continued to grow to the present and will surely
continue in the future. Russ Hess, Executive Director of the United States Police Canine Association speculates the number of canines serving in the Unites States is above 10,000

Research and Development

Research and development planning is crucial for administrators when making the decision to create a canine unit. There are many thought processes and levels of awareness needed to accurately plan for the new unit. Hess (2006) states that the first thing administrators need to address is the community and sell its citizens on the need for the canine. Once the public is aware, they may be involved in the process, which leads to strong public opinion. The public may view the dog as belonging to the community, not just the handler or department.

While the overwhelmingly most common complaint amongst K9 handlers is funding, Eden states that the second most common complaint is how the unit is administered. Eden also points out that it is crucial for the administration to understand the needs and potentials of their dog sections. Hess (2007) provides great insights on the pros and cons of forming a unit and what should be considered. Hess (2007) lists the following pros:

  1. To support the preventative patrol.
  2. To perform safety checks, ensuring that unauthorized personnel are not in restricted areas.
  3. To support preparation for and management of special events.
  4. To track fleeing suspects and support patrol officers in apprehensions.
  5. To support the delivery of warrants and high-risk arrests.
  6. To search for narcotics and explosives.
  7. Deterrence and Order maintenance.
  8. Public relations.
  9. Supports a higher level of officer safety.
  10. The criminal element fear of dogs reduces resistance during apprehension.
  11. Facility searches.
  12. Possible funding from Federal resources.

Hess (2007) also lists the following cons:

  1. The Fair Labor Standards requirement for handler care and overtime generated for at-home maintenance.
  2. Loss of unit for continued maintenance training, which should be at least sixteen hours a month.
  3. Reliance on outside technical support.
  4. High program start-up costs.
  5. Difficulty in finding good dogs.
  6. Difficulty in selecting the right handler.
  7. Legal and public relations consequences of bites.
  8. Demands of K9 administration.
  9. Scheduling challenges limit availability of K9s for service.
  10. Success requires a long-term investment.
  11. Constant efforts are needed to ensure the unit is being used appropriately.

By being aware of these issues up front, administrators can better prepare during
the planning process. Hess (2007) continues by stating that once an administration has considered the pro and cons, they then have to make the decision. This decision is based on five factors listed by Hess: level of commitment, understanding and support of challenges, ability to
provide adequate resources, ability to provide adequate supervision, and the willingness to enforce policies and procedures.

With all of the pros and cons weighted, what can a canine do that an officer can not do? “The dog’s ability to detect and distinguish between odors is hundreds of times greater that man’s. The dog’s ability to see movement is unquestionably better than man’s (Rapp, 1990). Gary Duncan says that a dog’s sense of smell is about 700 times that of a human. Duncan also states that a dog can search a building in about ten minutes, while it would take two to three hours for officers to search the same building (Hamilton, 2003) The Spokane, Washington Police Department’s world wide web page,, references a study done in Lansing, Michigan.

The study indicates that a single K9 team was able to complete building searches seven times faster than a team of four officers. Additionally, the K9 team had a 93% success rate, while the human team had a success rate of 59%, suggesting K9’s are 44% more effective than their human counterparts. The cost effectiveness of the increase success rate and the time saved will be discussed later.

It is important to research all aspects of the canine program development. It is important to find a dog with the right temperament (Hamilton, 2003). “German shepherds are extremely popular due to their intelligence and adaptability. Unfortunately, they are one of the highest priced work-dogs on the market” (Mesloh & Wolf, 2002). “Purchasing a dog from a reliable working dog vendor costs more initially, but should eliminate the need for extensive evaluations” (Hess, 2007). Duncan says the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department won’t use donated dogs anymore because it is
cheaper for the taxpayers to use a vendor who will select and provide the right dog and warrant them (Hamilton, 2003). Mesloh and Wolf suggest the work life of a narcotics dog is eight years (2002).

Handler selection is a crucial step in the research and implementation of the K9 unit. Eden sums this topic by saying, “you can handle a well trained dog by giving it appropriate direction and working with the animal. However, you cannot train a dog by simply learning how to handle it.” Many of the same qualities needed for a successful handler are the same for a successful supervisor. Hess warns of the mistake of trying to have more than one handler for the same unit (2006). Other considerations include the family’s thoughts and feelings, since the dog will become part of the family.

There must be a bond between the handler and the dog and a “natural ability to communicate with
animals” (Anderson, 2006). Eden states that administrators should keep the fact in mind that when using vendors to train handler candidates, they only have what the department sends them, and do the best the can with that applicant. Don’t try to place the blame of a poor handler on the vendor alone.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., sets the rules for payment of overtime for most workers who are not administrators or executives” (Anderson, 2006). “If administrators would take the time to investigate liability issues, they would realize that it’s not the problem they might perceive it is” (Hamilton, 2003). Small departments may be entirely exempt from the FLSA if there are fewer than five sworn police officers on the force.

“A strict agreement on how to compensate canine handlers for dog care is important. Beginning with clear procedures for every aspect of the K-9 unit and sticking to that plan will help guarantee a successful program” (Hamilton, 2003). “Under a FLSA ruling, time spent by the handler in caring for a city-owned dog at the handler’s residence is compensable including time spent on days off and during vacation periods. Any offduty training, unless specifically expressed, is also compensable” (Hess, 2006).


“The implementation of a canine program was found to be 33% more effective than officers without narcotics trained dogs when calculating the number of possible arrests” (Mesloh & Wolf, 2002). Hess states, “K9 programs require most of their investment up front, many weeks and months before the unit enters service.

Limiting investment in dog selection, dog testing, dog and handler training, and procedures development is the very activity that will damage the program down the road” (2007). Hess also claims that first year expenses may be as high as $118,650, which includes handler salary, overtime, per diem, canine and handler training, and a basic equipment package (2007). Mesloh and Wolf suggest the total cost for a narcotic K9 at $26,610 over eight years (2002). This figure only includes wages for the initial four weeks of training, and using vehicle from the current fleet. “This figure places the hourly cost of a trained narcotic canine at $1.81 per hour”, compared to an average of $38 per for an officer (Mesloh & Wolf, 2002). Wing figures the start up costs of a K9 unit as $23,990.45 in 2004, excluding the cost of a patrol vehicle and estimating a year’s worth of supplies. Wing also figures the average handler’s salary at $31,682 per year (2004). In an accreditation inspection of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit (dated 2001), when asked if costs and expenditures outweigh benefits derived, the answer was: “The benefits from the K9 Squad’s activity, arrests, and seizures far outweigh the operational costs of the unit. The K9 Squad continues to apprehend criminals, look for lost people, assist other members of the agency, as well as the public. The over all efficiency of our agency would suffer if not for the cost effectiveness of the K9 Squad” (T. Fleck, personal communication, 9/2/06).

“One team of three dogs can thoroughly search an area of one square mile in three and a half hours. It would take 88 humans to search the same size area in the same amount of time and with the same rate of success. In financial terms, the cost of the canine search is approximately $200, versus $6,046 for the human one, according to the New Hampshire Working Dog Association Newsletter” (Gardner, 2001).

“Essential equipment for starting a K-9 unit includes a dedicated car with a kennel insert in the back seat, a temperature monitor to make sure the dog doesn’t overheat, a door popper to release the dog, leashes, tracking leads, bite sleeves and other training equipment, an outdoor kennel at the handler’s home, and of course, food” (Hamilton, 2003). Sergeant Kevin Rofidal, Edina, MI Police Department figures the cost of a K9 ready patrol vehicle, including gas, to be $27,000 the first year and $7,000 each year after (Hamilton, 2003). The University of Central Florida Police Department overcame the costly vehicle issue when a solution presented itself. “The department adopted a 12-hour shift plan and found that it no longer needed several patrol vehicles to maintain the same level of coverage. The department removed two vehicles from the fleet” and assigned them as K9 take-home vehicles. They also had surplus pool vehicles after the shift plan
change (Mesloh, 2003).

Local businesses may be able to donate products or services. A fence company may donate the fence for the kennel. A veterinarian may provide free or discounted services and/or medications. (Hamilton, 2003)


“The industry standard for canine maintenance is a minimum for four hours per
week, on average. This is recommended by the United States Police Canine Association,
the North American Police Work Dog Association, and the National Police Canine
Association. This training ensures that you do not have a misbehaving dog.


Memberships to any of these organizations could be very beneficial. The annual UPSCA certification will support credibility as an effective team. The certification attests to the canine team meeting a national standard” (Anderson, 2006). Anderson also states, “K9 Officers do more frequent emergency responses than other members of the department; therefore they need to be very proficient in driving techniques” (2006).

Hamilton (2003) states, “you can buy a dog completely trained, but if the handler hasn’t gone through training with the dog, then you might run into trouble”. Hamilton goes on to say, “ideally, police dog training involves the canine handler as much as the dog. Working together from the start builds a bond and makes sure both completely understands the procedures” (2003).

Mesloh (2003) stated, “Small agencies can ‘piggyback’ off larger agencies. These larger agencies usually have many more resources to draw upon and may allow handlers to attend the training that they conduct. Moreover, by participating with other agencies, handlers are exposed to varied methodologies of training, while the relationship between agencies is strengthened by the interaction of their personnel”. Hamilton supports Mesloh (2003) warning, when handlers attend other agencies’ training academy, it can cost a lot of money for food and lodging. “But cutting training short to save money will not be cost-effective or as safe in the long run” (Hamilton, 2003). Chapman concluded in a 1980 study that the top five reasons canine programs were discontinued

1. Insufficient public funding,
2. Handler left the force; and no other officer was interested in the unit,
3. Handler was promoted to another role in the agency,
4. Low volume of crime for which K9 was needed, and
5. Unit administration/supervision was decentralized (1990).


Section 3

Research Methods

Data for research was collected to prove that K9 units can be cost-effective tools for law enforcement. Merriam-Webster defines cost-effective as economical in terms of tangible benefits produced by money spent.

Data for research was collected using two methods. The first method administered was a quantative instrument this study will refer to as the questionnaire. A questionnaire produced by the researcher was sent to 35 recipients via email and in person. Twenty-two (63%) completed questionnaires were returned. The second method used was a qualitative instrument this study will refer to as the interviews. The questionnaire consisted of twenty questions using the Likert-type Scale. The answers to the questions are strongly agree, agree, do not know, disagree, and strongly disagree. The researcher was looking for any instances where handler perceptions and
thoughts differed from those of the administrators. Unfortunately, no administrators responded.

Questions covered four focus arenas. They were cost versus benefit, funding sources, public perception, and unit effectiveness. The last four questions collected data pertaining to the current number of active K9 teams, the amount of time the agency had employed a K9 unit, the total number of sworn officers, and what areas of training each active canine specialized in. In addition to the questionnaire distributed via email or by hand, each interview email contained a digital copy of the questionnaire for distribution to that agency’s K9 handlers. None of these questionnaires were returned.


For convenience, the interview process was comprised of ten questions sent to 17 recipients via email. Four of the seventeen recipients, or 36%, responded. Nine chiefs of police were emailed; one response was received from this group. This response was generated by the handler himself, which was appropriate. Four expert trainers were emailed and three responded almost immediately. The remaining six interview emails were sent to a group of K9 supervisors and two researchers, none in this group replied.


Section 4

Research Findings

The total of all responses of the questionnaire were tallied into a Microsoft Excel database for statistical evaluation. Chart one displays the results broken down by questions. To make it easier to view, the researcher grouped strongly agree and agree responses together in one category. This same method was used with disagree and strongly disagree responses.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents agreed that public perception is important, and services provided by the K9 unit greatly out weigh the costs. One hundred percent of the respondents agreed K9 handlers should be provided with take home vehicles, the canine should be kept at the handler’s home, handler selection is critical to success, and monthly training requirements promote success. With respect to funding, 50% disagree that grants are available to cover most costs associated with K9 unit costs, while 23% disagreed and 27% did not know. Nine percent of the respondents are employed by law enforcement agencies that are not funded by tax base. This does not mean that these are private entities. Wilmington International Airport, NC, for example, is not funded by tax dollars. As a public entity, it is funded with generated revenue and grants. All 22
respondents disagreed that public demonstrations by the K9 unit equate a waste of financial resources.

When asked if their local government planners are advocates for the K9 program, 36% of respondents did not know, the remaining 64% was split evenly between agree and disagree. Ninety-five percent of respondents said that publicity is good for educating the public about the unit and its uses. Sixty-eight percent claimed that donations greatly reduced costs at their respective agencies, conversely, 27% disagreed and 5% did not know. Sixty-four percent of all respondents believe that K9 units should be a part of every department, regardless of size. Hamilton (2003) agrees with this by stating, “one of the biggest problems in not having your own K9 unit is depending on another department to have theirs available when you need it.” Twenty-seven percent of the respondents disagree with Hamilton and 9% did not know.

The researcher was surprised to learn that 5% of the respondents did not believe that K9 units would reduce crime and 9% stated that they did not know. Also, 64% believe it is not cost effective to use units from other agencies. Eighteen percent of the respondents think that it is cost effective, while 18% did not know. Ninety-five percent of respondents believe K9 handlers should be compensated for at-home care, 5% did not know.

The goal was to survey departments with twenty-five or less sworn law enforcement officers. Due to convenience and for a greater knowledge base, some officers with larger departments were asked to complete the questionnaire. The average department size of respondents was 102 sworn law enforcement officers.


Table 1

Respondents by Department Size

Position ƒ %
Less than 25 10 46
26-150 6 27
151-400 6 27
Total 22 100

The average number of canines per department was four with the largest being ten belonging to a department of 125 sworn law enforcement officers. Seventeen years and four months is the average service to date of canine units surveyed; 41 years is the oldest unit surveyed. The specialty and training break downs are as follows: Patrol =64%, Narcotics Detection =58%, Explosive Detection =12%, Tracking =76%, Detention = 10%, Cadaver = 8% and no respondents are operating with Arson trained canines. Of the seventeen interviews emailed, four replies, 24%, were received. For confidentiality purposes, the interviewees will be referred to only by first and last initial.

Responses came from three experts, R.H., T.F., and G.G. A response was also received
from a local canine handler and supervisor C.M. The interviewees were asked what advice they may have for small agency administrators when forming K9 units. Commitment is the key, once a program is started; plan to stick with it for the long term. Administrators should be cautious with handler selection, be aware of FLSA laws and attend seminars specific to K9 unit administration.

The respondents stated the funding is available through local resources, Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. T.F. commented further about local donation; “most communities will donate to a canine program. The key to success is ‘ownership’ of the dog. The community must believe they are donating ‘their’ dog and be a part of the ownership of the dog. Therefore, community dog demonstrations, community canine newsletters, etc., will assist the community in funding and having ownership in your canine program” (personal communication, 3/2/07). The average response of what the average annual cost of a canine unit was $2,000.
Common mistakes that occur during K9 unit administration was answered as lack of training for administrators and handlers, long-term funding, improper deployment, accidental bites and how they are handled, and FLSA knowledge. R.H. broke it down into eight problem areas:

  • Span of control – assigning a K9 unit to work under multiple supervisors,
  • Unity of command – each supervisor feels they know the best way to utilize the unit,
  • Poor Utilization,
  • Lack of goals for the K9 unit,
  • Unit is placed under control of disinterested supervisor, 21
  • Failure to recognize training as a required on going liability to maintain an effective unit,
  • Selecting a bad handler, who has the wrong reasons for the assignment,
  • Failure to address FLSA requirements (personal communication, 3/2/07).

Examples that were given concerning standardized, K9 specific record keeping were national certifications, use of force occurrences, all training conducted, and deployments. Also addressed was a complete diary of every action anytime the canine was transported, even during off-duty hours, equipment inventories, and medical records. When asked about handler selection, T.F. summed it up with traits such as maturity, patience, initiative, flexibility, dependability, enthusiasm,
emotional stability, good communications skills, good physical condition and health, comfortable with and around dogs, good interpersonal relationships with the public and co-workers, home life that is compatible with canine, and a minimum of five years law enforcement experience (personal communication, 3/2/07).

The researcher asked each interviewee their feelings on contracts for the K9 position and a fair tenure. T.F. stated that labor laws prevent written contracts. The consensus was an understood 4 – 5 years, with one dog. R.H. added the best person should be “selected, not eliminated, from consideration for promotion.


Section 5

Conclusions and Recommendations

From the information collected, the majority of K9 units in service today are relatively new. The oldest of the units that responded to the survey was 41 years old, while the youngest was 3 months old. It is the researcher’s opinion that if a department is truly serious about forming and maintaining a K9 unit that there are many options available to facilitate it. It may just be a matter of doing some leg work. One important facet to keep an eye on is mentioned by Chapman (1990), in which he refers to “characteristics of jurisdiction” when developing the unit model. Obviously, if the jurisdiction has no warrant for a K9 unit, which is very few unique instances in the researchers opinion, do not form one. The researcher would also like to comment on a quote cited by Rouhib (2003), “research indicates that the canine would generate more revenue than any other unit in
the police agency”. This may be true, but should never be used as a “selling point”, because there will be pressure to produce funds. While the K9 unit will or should certainly produce its own revenue, there should be no pressure of minimum seizures. Mesloh and Wolf believe “the cost range of $1.98 to $2.38 per hour to fund a canine program provides an opportunity for even the smallest college [or municipality] to reap the benefits of this law enforcement tool (2002). “Dogs do not require minimum wage. They are happy employees as long as they are fed, cared for, and allowed to work” (Rapp, 1990).



Anderson, D. (2006, October). Basic K9 handler’s orientation. Unpublished lesson plan presented in fulfillment of North Carolina General Instructor Certification.

Bumgarner, M., & Sjoquist, D.L. (1998, Summer). The impact of crack enforcement on
police budgets. Journal of Drug Issues, 28, 3.

Chapman, S. (1990). Police dogs in North America. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas,

Eden, R. (n.d.). Administrating the K9 unit. Retrieved May 18, 2007, from

Eden, R. (n.d.). Vendor vs. agency training. Retrieved May 18, 2007, from

Eden, R. (1993). K9 Officer’s Manual. Bellingham, WA: Temeron Books Inc.

Hamilton, M. (2003, February). How to start a K-9 unit. Police: The law enforcement
magazine, 27-2, 18-23.

Hess, R. (2006). The forming of a canine unit. Retrieved August 26, 2006, from

Hess, R. (2007). The K-9 program. Manuscript in preparation.

Mesloh, C. (2003, October). Canines and community policing: An Introduction to K-9 Lite. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 72, 14-18.

Mesloh, C., Henych, M., & Wolf, R. (2002, November/December). Sniff test: utilization of the law enforcement canine in the seizure of paper currency. Journal of Forensic Identification, 52, 6.


Mesloh, C., & Wolf, R. (2002). Establishing a canine unit on a university campus: A cost-effective analysis for the University of Central Florida. Orlando, Fl: University of Central Florida, Department of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies.

Rapp, J. (1990). How to train dogs for police work. Fairfax, VA: Denlinger’s Publishers, LTD.

Rouhib, F. (2003, September). Implementing a canine unit in a small police agency. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from,%20Operations,%20Tactics/Implementing%20a%20Canine%20Unit%20in%20a%20Small%20Police%20Agency.pdf.

Thurston, M.E. (1999, September). The constable’s companion. Dog World, 84, 46-50. Wallentine, K. (n.d.). Successful risk management for K9 programs. Retrieved May 18, 2007, from Wing, J. (2004, March). Canine drug program cost analysis. Boise, ID: Idaho Criminal Justice Council.


Tables and Charts

Chart 1

Questionnaire Results
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Questions Number Frequency

Agree 21 21 22 22 5 20 22 7 21 15 22 19 14 21 4 Don’t Know 6 8 1 2 2 1 4
Disagree 1 1 11 2 22 7 1 6 1 6 14

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Questionnaire Key

1. Public perception is important for a successful K9 unit.
2. The service provided by a K9 unit greatly outweighs the cost of maintaining the unit.
3. K9 handlers should be provided with specially equipped “take home” vehicles to transport the canine.
4. To ensure the strongest possible bond between handler and canine, the dog should be kept at the handler’s residence.
5. Grants are available to cover most costs associated with K9 units.
6. My agency is funded by tax dollars, as opposed to being a privately funded agency.
7. Handler selection is critical to a successful K9 unit.
8. Public demonstrations by the K9 unit are a waste of time and money.
9. Local government planners are strong advocates of the K9 unit.
10. When forming a new K9 unit, publicity is good for educating the public about the unit and its uses.
11. Public and/or corporate donations greatly reduce the costs of the K9 unit(s) at my agency.
12. Monthly in-service training requirements promote successful K9 units.
13. K9 units reduce crime.
14. K9 units should be a part of every department regardless of size.
15. Handlers should be compensated for the time spent caring for the canine at home.
16. It is more cost effective to use K9 units from other agencies utilizing mutual aid agreements.


Chart 2

Responding Agency Sizes
50 –
50 – 200
201 – 300
301 +

Appendix 1


K9 Unit Budget Questionnaire

Do not write your name on this questionnaire since the information you are giving is confidential. It will not be used for or against you in any way. The data received will be compared with data from other individuals to better understand operating budgets for K9 units in departments with less than twenty-five
officers. This research is being conducted by Lieutenant David Anderson in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Mount Olive College, Wilmington, North Carolina. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated and your opinions are
important to this research.

Thank you!

Please circle the selection that expresses your feelings about each statement.
SA = Strongly Agree A = Agree DK = Don’t Know D = Disagree SD = Strongly Disagree
1. Public perception is important for a successful K9 unit.
2. The service provided by a K9 unit greatly out weighs the cost of maintaining the unit.
3. K9 handlers should be provided with specially equipped “take home” vehicles to transport the canine.
4. To ensure the strongest possible bond between handler and canine, the dog should be kept at the handler’s residence.
5. Grants are available to cover most costs associated with K9 units.
6. My agency is funded by tax dollars, as opposed to being a privately funded agency.
7. Handler selection is critical to a successful K9 unit.
8. Public demonstrations by the K9 unit are a waste of time and money.
9. Local government planners are strong advocates of the K9 unit.
10. When forming a new K9 unit publicity is good for educating the public about the unit and its uses.
11. Public and/or corporate donations greatly reduce the costs of the K9 unit(s) at my agency.
12. Monthly in-service training requirements promote successful K9 units.
13. K9 units reduce crime.
14. K9 units should be a part of every department regardless of size.
15. Handlers should be compensated for the time spent caring for the canine at home.
16. It is more cost effective to use K9 units from other agencies utilizing mutual aid agreements.


17. My agency currently has _______ active K9 units.
18. My agency has been utilizing K9 units since __________.
19. My agency has _______ sworn officers. (Please include vacant positions.)
20. My agency utilizes K9 units in the following specialties. (Please denote number.)
• Patrol (Aggression) _______
• Narcotics Detection _______
• Explosive Detection _______
• Tracking _______
• Detention _______
• Arson _______
• Cadaver _______
Thank you again for you time! If you would like to make any additional comments please feel free to email me at
NOTE: Font reduced on questionnaire to allow for proper formatting.


Appendix 2

Interview Questions

Reproduction of Email:

I am requesting your assistance. I am a Lieutenant, and a former K9 handler, with Wilmington International Airport Police Department in Wilmington, NC. I am currently completing my baccalaureate degree in Criminal Justice Administration and required to complete a thesis paper. My paper pertains to forming and administering K9 units in small departments. I believe that each of you has valuable knowledge in this area of research. The questions below are
considered an informal interview. I want to thank you in advance for any assistance you provide. Please cut and paste the following questions into your reply email and answer as you see fit.

1. What advice do you have for small agency administrators when forming K9 units?
2. What are the best resources for grant research and other funding?
3. What would you say is the average annual cost per K9 team/unit?
4. What are some common mistakes that may occur while administering K9 units?
5. What standardized, but K9 specific, forms or records should be used and how frequent?
6. What criteria should be considered when selecting a handler?
7. Does your department have contract agreements with your handler(s)? For example, pertaining to the time in that position.
8. What is the size of your department? How many K9 teams do you have, and what areas do the perform? (i.e. narcotics, patrol, or explosives)
9. Is there anything else that you feel would be helpful to my research?
10. Please provide your name, rank, and department mailing address.

Once again, I know that each of you are very busy with the administration of your perspective agencies and I truly appreciate the time you have taken to assist me in my research. I have also attached a questionnaire in the event your handler(s) may want to contribute to my research. It can be faxed to the number below, please provide a cover sheet, Attn: Lt. D.Anderson. If there is ever anything that I can do for you, please contact me.

David Anderson
Lieutenant, 103
Wilmington Int’l Airport Police
1740 Airport Boulevard
Wilmington, NC 28405

Implementing A Canine Unit In A Small Police Agency


Lieutenant George T. Rouhib
Fraser Department of Public Safety
Fraser, Michigan

An applied research project submitted to the Department of Interdisciplinary Technology as part of the School of Police Staff and Command Program
September 19, 2003

For several years, the City of Fraser Public Safety Department has been using canine resources from other communities in order to curtail crime. This research paper focused on the importance of implementing a canine unit within a police agency and selecting the most qualified individual for the handler position.
With the increase in drug trafficking, it is imperative that even a small police agency such as the City of Fraser creates a canine unit. The use of the canine can be advantageous in search warrant executions, tracking fleeing suspects, building and vehicle searches, and public relations.
The purpose of this research project was to seek information in order to determine if a canine unit would be beneficial to the police agency. The information that was gathered not only will assist the City of Fraser but all police agencies in establishing their own canine unit. Several topics were investigated during this project:
a) The implementation and ongoing costs associated with the unit
b) The advantages and disadvantages the canine unit offers
c) The type of individual that should be chosen or the canine position
d) The administrative issues relevant to the unit

The writer selected numerous experienced canine administrators as well as handlers to assist with this research project. Each individual was interviewed and provided with a written survey of questions that were relevant to the issues. Various books and articles were also utilized in the research.
The results of this study indicated that a canine unit would be advantageous to the city if properly managed. The most important issue was choosing the right handler in order to make the unit a success. If the handler is not self-motivated or lacks work ethic, the program will be unsuccessful. The writer will recommend, based on the research, that the implementation of the canine unit will not only promote or benefit the department but the entire community.


The City of Fraser Police Department has relied on the support of canine officers from other agencies for many years. Recently, three surrounding police agencies have eliminated their canine units due to budget constraints.

In 1996, the city created a Special Investigation Unit in order to investigate narcotic trafficking complaints. A great deal of the unit’s success was attributed to the assistance of the canine from other police agencies. However, the elimination of the canine units from the other agencies will unquestionably disrupt the unit as well as the department. Up to this point, there has been no research conducted on implementing and operating a canine unit within the City of Fraser. In order for the Special Investigation Unit to maintain its standards, it is imperative that the city creates its own unit in order to make the canine readily available.

There have been numerous occasions where a canine was immediately required to assist officers with a narcotic’s search warrant and road patrol officers with vehicle searches. The most recent case occurred when officers from the Special Investigation Unit received information from a reliable informant that two individuals were going to deliver a large amount of a drug called ecstasy to a residence in Fraser. The officers received additional information that the lone female passenger was in possession of the illegal substance. The officers subsequently stopped the vehicle, interviewed the male and female occupants, and obtained a consent search. After an exhaustive search, the officers could not locate any drugs. A canine was then requested to assist the officers at the scene. The nearest department that could supply a canine was 40 minutes away. When the handler arrived at the scene, his canine alerted to the exterior of the vehicle and the front passenger seat where the female was sitting. The female was then detained and transported to the police department where a female officer searched her. The search resulted in the seizure of 300 ecstasy pills. The prosecutor’s office declined to authorize a warrant based on the time that lapsed from the traffic stop to the arrival of the canine officer. This could have been avoided if the city had its own canine handler.

The purpose of this research project was to gather information relevant to establishing a canine unit within a police agency. It was important to gather a variety of data that is germane to the costs of the unit, the selection of the handler, the advantages and disadvantages of creating a unit, and administrative issues associated with the program. This data was collected by means of interviewing several experienced dog handlers and administrators from various police agencies. The writer also prepared a written survey that was forwarded to the handlers that contained questions that were significant to the canine unit. There were also several reference articles, documents, and books used to obtain all of the necessary information.


The use of canines in police work date back to the 14th Century in St. Malo France where canines were used to guard dock installations (Northern Constabulary Police Dog Section, 2003). They were also used in Paris in 1895 to combat the street gangs. In 1896, Ghent, Belgium was the first city in the world to formulate a school where dogs could be trained for law enforcement purposes (RCMP Police Dog Service, 2003).

New York City established canine programs in 1907. Since then, over 1,000 American forces have had units for short and extended periods of time.
Canines were used during World War I and II where dogs acted as messengers, tracking, locating the wounded, and for spotting machine gun nests.

The use of the canines in the early 1960s was instrumental in breaking up demonstrations during the civil rights era. Today, there are approximately 7,000 police canine teams in the United States (Butler, 2002). The historical data indicates that canine have been instrumental for thousands of years. There are an endless amount of services that they are capable of performing.

There is no reason why a canine unit cannot be implemented in every police agency provided that they have the funds, manpower, and legitimate reasons for its existence.

The City of Fraser has depended too long on neighboring police agencies for their assistance. Is it fair to continuously call the same police departments requesting their assistance and diminish their manpower? There are times where a handler can be engaged assisting other agencies for hours.
The City is currently at the point where it cannot obtain assistance from surrounding communities due to budget cuts and the elimination of their canine programs. This is why it is vital to create a program within the department. The research indicated that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of establishing a program.

If the canine program is established in the future, the dog will be readily available for service. The department will not have to consume valuable time in attempting to contact three or four agencies for the support of their dog, while a fleeing felon is running down the city streets. The officer will not have to worry about backup or being injured because the canine will assist him/her. The dog will be instrumental in searching a vehicle or a home for narcotics. The program will bring the community closer to the police department where it will illustrate the importance of law enforcement and how technology is so ever changing.


A large portion of this research project relied on interviews and survey questions. The questions on the survey focused on the following issues: