Dog goes from death row to police duty

Published: March 27, 2006 | 3871st good news item since 2003

A DELINQUENT dog who faced being put down because he was too aggressive has become one of Scotland’s top police dogs.

Cash, a two-year-old German Shepherd who snarled and growled at anyone who came near, was spotted by a police dog trainer on a routine trip to SSPCA kennels in Bothwell, near Glasgow.

Strathclyde Police dog instructor Constable Phil Healy said he had been told the dog probably would not be of use because he was too aggressive.

Cash had been picked up as a stray and handed to the kennels, and was likely to have been put down as he was too aggressive to go to a normal home.

“When I approached his kennel he threw himself against the bars, growling and bearing his teeth at me,” PC Healy said.

He stopped after a few minutes and PC Healy entered the kennel. “He then lay cowered in the corner, expecting to be beaten. It was as though that was all he had ever known,” said PC Healy.

After five minutes in which the two weighed each other up, Cash was taken outside and began to fetch balls and toys, then demanded more games.

“I realised we had a dog which could quickly learn how to behave and obey commands,” PC Healy added.

“We can only assume that his fierce aggression was caused by being beaten badly as a puppy. When he saw people he expected to be hammered and when they approached he cowered, waiting for a beating.

“But with a lot of encouragement and training he had the makings of a good dog.”

Cash is particularly unusual as police dogs are usually only purpose-bred. Even then only one in ten selected will make the grade.

After weeks of training, Cash passed his Home Office police dog licence exams.

“It’s extremely unusual for ones like Cash to pass with flying colours,” PC Healy said.

The dog now lives with his handler, Constable Colin Walker, his wife Louise and daughter Caelidh, eight.

Since joining Strathclyde Police as a general purpose dog, Cash has helped make two difficult arrests, where burglars have hidden in woods, and even located one across a river.

He has also attended Old Firm matches on crowd control duties.

“He has gone from death row to joining the police and that’s an amazing feat for any dog,” PC Walker said.

An SSPCA spokeswoman said: “We are thrilled that a dog who was too aggressive to home is doing so well. It’s a wonderful alternative to being put down. We only do that as a last resort but that was looking like the only option for Cash. This is a complete redemption for a dog everyone feared.”

Published in Animals
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