Organization trains homeless dogs for police work

Universal K-9 founder and trainer Brad Croft and his organization have saved 60 dogs from euthanasia this year so far. (Photo credit: ABC News)

Police departments across the country typically spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to purchase and train purebred dogs like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for K-9 work.

But an organization out of San Antonio, Texas, is proving law enforcement units can find great K-9 partners much closer to home, and all it takes is a visit to an animal shelter.

Universal K9 founder and trainer Brad Croft says some of the best patrol dogs, narcotics detection dogs, and scent tracking dogs he’s worked with once found themselves on doggie death row. But with a little bit of faith and a lot of TLC and training, these homeless dogs have become skilled dogs on duty, performing jobs that keep communities safe.

“All they need is a chance to prove themselves and these dogs will work every bit as hard as the purebred dogs that we bring in from overseas,” Croft tells ABC News.

The dogs Universal K9 saves and trains are then given to law enforcement units at no cost.

Croft and Universal K9 have been able to rescue a whopping 60 dogs so far this year, and he says his organization is well on track to saving 100 dogs or more from euthanasia by the end of 2014.

“If you look at the statistics, the statistics are like something like 945,000 a year that are being euthanized,” Croft explains.

Sadie, a 5-month-old mixed-breed dog, was close to becoming a statistic herself before she became the star student at Universal K9.

“I found Sadie on the side of the road one day,” says Kirby, Texas, animal control worker Estephen Centeno.

“Hearing Sadie is like a miracle dog…it’s an amazing feeling because a lot of these dogs get put down in other places,” he adds.

Soon, Sadie will find a job and a family with a police officer.

In addition to training homeless dogs to work in important working dog roles, Universal K9 is big on giving back. Their newest venture, “From Street Dog to Police Dog,” is a crowdfunding campaign aimed at protecting dogs and helping struggling communities. Funds raised will help police departments and schools with limited means afford police K9s and handler training, but it will also help save dogs on death row in shelters, the Digital Journal reports. Universal K9 hopes to raise $300,000 by the end of the campaign.

“It’s a lot of money,” says Croft. “We’ve got thousands of police departments and thousands of schools that can’t afford narcotics and explosives dogs, and we’ve got countless dogs in need of saving. Police departments and schools have to find some way to afford the handler training, vehicle cage, vehicle stickers, dog food, training aids, and veterinary care for the dogs.”

If you would like to make a contribution to the “From Street Dog to Police Dog” campaign, visit the Help Dogs Help Us Indiegogo page today.

Sources: Indiegogo.com, UniversalK9inc.com, Digital Journal, ABC News