What Happens to Police Dogs When They Retire? What Happens to Police Dogs When They Retire? - SitStay

What Happens to Police Dogs When They Retire?

August 08, 2018 0 Comments

Police dogs, also known as K-9s, risk their lives to protect and assist law enforcement personnel. Their duties include tracking criminals, searching for drugs and explosives, finding missing people, and sniffing out crime scene evidence. 

Police dogs are a vital part of modern law enforcement, and they're specially trained to be relied upon in extreme situations. Tough, intelligent breeds like the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois make excellent police dogs, and usually serve in their roles until seven or eight years of age. 

But have you ever wondered what happens to police dogs when they retire? If the answer's "yes", then you're in the right place. Keep on reading to find out what happens to retired police dogs in the US. 

Robby's Law

In 2000, President Bill Clinton passed  Robby's Law in Congress which permits retired military and police dogs to be adopted by their handlers. Shockingly, up until 2000, police and military dogs were routinely euthanized when no longer fit for service. 

The breeds that work as police dogs can live until 11-14 years of age, and many handlers are keen to adopt them. Thankfully, after Robby's Law was passed retired police dogs can now be adopted by their handlers.

adoption by handlers

The majority of retired police dogs are adopted by their handlers. This makes sense because of the close bond that already exists between the dog and handler.

But it's not always easy for retired police dogs to adapt to their new lives off duty. Some dogs may be overly aggressive because of the attack training they received during their working lives.

Others may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and require specialized training and socialization after retirement. 

Retired police dogs are also in their senior years. This means that they often require medical treatment to stay fit and healthy.

Adopting a retired police dog can take a huge commitment of time and money, but most handlers will do everything in their power to make life for their retired police dog as comfortable as possible. 


The Retired Police Canine Foundation and the  National Police Dog Foundation are two examples of organizations in the US that assist law enforcement officers who have adopted retired police dogs. 

These organizations help cover the costs of veterinary care for retired police dogs, raise awareness, and provide other services to improve the lives of retired police dogs and their handlers. 

adopting a retired police dog

Although most retired police dogs are adopted by their handlers, in rare cases it's possible for civilians to adopt them. 

This can happen when a handler dies, or if a police dog was unable to complete law enforcement training. Civilians are usually third in line for the opportunity to adopt a retired police dog – after the handler's family and law enforcement officers. 

If a police dog is available for civilian adoption, potential owners are required to pass a thorough screening process.

Are you considering adopting a retired police dog? Let's take a look at the typical process involved. 

contact your local police department

If you're thinking about adopting a retired police dog, your local police department is the best place to start your search.

While they may not have any dogs available for civilian adoption, they may be able to provide contact details for other police departments or organizations in your area that do. 

If your local police department can't help, it's worth conducting some research online. Non-profit organizations, shelters, and law enforcement agencies may have retired police dogs that are available for adoption. 

adoption process

After finding an adoption agency, you'll need to start the official adoption process. This can be time consuming, so don't expect immediate results. 

The adoption process will consist of a written application and an interview with the staff of the agency. The information gathered will be used to decide whether you qualify for adopting a dog or not. 

A home inspection will also be necessary to make sure your living arrangements are suitable for the adopted dog. You may also need to show that you have sufficient finances to care for the dog properly.  

If you're approved for adoption you'll be placed on a waiting list until a suitable dog is matched with you. Finally, you'll need to arrange for the adopted dog to be transported to your home. 

taking care of a retired police dog

The first thing to remember is that retired police dogs are highly trained. This means that they are usually very responsive to commands, but they may have a tendency to be aggressive in certain situations. 

Retired police dogs need strong handlers who are able to stand their ground and give firm commands. If you are an inexperienced dog handler then a retired police dog is unlikely to be a good fit for you. 

As we mentioned earlier, retired police dogs are in their senior years and will need some extra care and attention. Joint problems are particularly common in retired police dogs due to the tough physical requirements of their working lives.

If your retired police dog has joint issues it's a good idea to add  joint supplements to their diet to improve joint function and reduce pain.

It's also important to make sure your dog has a comfortable place to sleep that will prevent pressure on sensitive joints. A high-quality orthopedic dog bed is the best option for senior dogs with joint issues. 

wrapping up

Retired police dogs are true American heroes, and they deserve to live out their retirements in loving homes. Thanks to Robby's Law, most retired police dogs spend retirement with their handlers – and that's exactly the way it should be. 

If you're considering adopting a retired police dog that can't be with its handler, please make sure that you conduct thorough research and take all the steps necessary to provide a good home for your new pet.

Adopting a retired police dog can be very rewarding, but it's a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities.

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