Police dogs commonly known as K-9s are pooches that risk their lives helping in law enforcement protecting and saving lives from sure danger. Their job includes finding missing people, criminal tracking and even searching for drugs and explosives. They also sniff out evidence and crime scenes.

K-9s are a vital part of modern crime solving and law enforcement. They are trained to be reliable enough in every situation including the extreme ones. The smart and tough breeds like the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are great police dogs. They serve for seven to eight years before retiring.

But what happens to police dogs after they’ve reached their years of service as K-9s? In this blog, we’re going to find out the answer so read on towards the end to learn what every police dog’s fate is after retirement in the US.

Thanks To the Robby’s Law

Up until the year 2000, police dogs were euthanized when they’ve already reached their years of service (7-8 years). However, after President Bill Clinton signed the “Robby’s Law”, police dogs were already permitted for adoption by their handlers.

Breeds that are used as police dogs have a life expectancy of around 11-14 years so after retiring, most handlers really want to keep them. That’s exactly what the Robby’s Law made entirely possible after it was passed.

Being Adopted By Handlers

Many police dogs end up being adopted by their handlers after retiring. This is because most handlers already developed a close bond with their K-9s over the course of years being together. But adapting to the new life off duty isn’t always that easy for retired police dogs. There are those that are too aggressive due to the attack and defense training they’ve gone through and have been doing for almost half their lifetime.


There are others that need to undergo socialization and specialized training after retirement due to post-traumatic stress disorders. And since most K-9s are in their senior years upon retirement, they will require extra care and even medical treatment in order to stay healthy and fit.

Getting a police dog to be part of your family requires a huge commitment. They need time and even money on treatments and other needs. But because of the close bond that they’ve developed with the dog, most handlers do everything to make sure that their furry partners can be with them in the remainder of its life and make life better and more comfortable after retirement.

Organizations That Assist in Caring for Retired Police Dogs

There are organizations that help assist people who have adopted a retired police dog. The National Police Dog Foundation and Retired Police Canine Foundation are two examples that you can get help from when needed. These organizations help by covering costs in vet visits and care and even provide services that can make the life for retired police dogs a lot better. They also raise awareness about police dogs becoming house pets and many other things relevant to the care of these retired noble service pooches.

Adopting a Retired Police Dog

Most police dogs are adopted by their handlers after retirement. But there are rare cases where civilians adopt them. This can be possible if for instance the handler dies or the police dog fails law enforcement training. Civilians fall third in line in terms of the opportunity of adopting a retired police dog. The spot goes to the handler’s family then to law enforcement officers.

In case a police dog is open for adoption by a civilian, every potential owner would need to pass a screening process. Have you been considering to adopt a retired police dog? Below is the typical process that you’ll go through.

Get in Touch With Your Local Police Department

The best place to start if you’re thinking of adopting a retired police dog is your local police department. They may not have a K-9 pooch for adoption but they can give you information on organizations or police departments nearby that has a retired police dog looking for a new home.

If you’ve done this but didn’t get enough help, doing some research online is going to help a lot. Shelters, non-profit organizations, and agencies working on law enforcement may have a police dog available for adoption and most of the time, they’ll post the information online.

The Adoption Process

Once you find the right adoption agency, the official process for adoption will start. It takes time so don’t expect results right away. The process will require you to write an application letter and you will be interviewed by one of the agency’s staff. The information they’ve gathered from the interview is going to be used for deciding whether you are qualified to adopt the dog or not.

They’ll also do an inspection of your home just to be sure that the environment is good for the dog that will be adopted. You will also be required to show that you have enough finances to properly care for the dog. Once you are approved, you will be placed on a waiting list until they find a dog that’s suitable for you. Lastly, you will need to arrange for the transportation of the dog to your home once a match is found for you.

How to Care for a Retired Police Dog

It is important to know that retired police dogs are trained ones. They will respond to commands very well but they can be aggressive in certain situations. Retired K-9s also need a strong handler who’s firm in commands and in giving instructions. If you don’t have enough experience as a handler then a retired police dog is not for you.

Add joint supplements to the overall diet of your retired police dog of he’s already got joint problems. This will improve the joint function and take away the pain. Be sure that your new pet has a comfortable place or spot which he can call his own. Somewhere that’s great for sleeping and resting to relieve pressure from his joints. Getting an orthopedic dog bed is great for retired police dogs that are already having some joint problems.


Being true American heroes, retired police dogs deserve to spend the rest of their life in a home that’s full of love and comfort. That’s the least we can do for these noble heroes who dedicated half of their life serving the country. And thanks to Robby’s law, retired police dogs can now be adopted by their handlers.

Are you thinking of adopting a retired police dog that’s not able to be with its handler after retirement? Be sure to do your own research and take time to do all the steps necessary in providing a good home for a true hero pet. Adopting one can be a fun and memorable experience but it also comes with great responsibility. Be sure that you’re ready for all this before applying to adopt one.


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