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K-9 Unit FAQ

K-9 Main Page


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Questions regarding donating dogs call:  (813) 276-3717.

Questions regarding public
demonstrations call:
(813) 276-3717.

For questions regarding explosives detection canines call:
(813) 276-3717.

If you have any further questions regarding our unit or the Canine program, please call:
(813) 276-3717.

TAMPA POLICE  -  K-9 Unit's Frequently Asked Questions
Q.  What kind of dogs do you use?
A.  We use a variety of dogs depending on what their specialty may be.  For patrol work we primarily use the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois.  For Explosives and Narcotics detection we use the Labrador and Golden Retriever breeds.  We also have one blood hound.
Q.  Who trains the dogs?
A.  We train all of our dogs "in-house."  This means their respective handlers, with the guidance of a senior handling instructor, train all of the dogs.  No private individuals or entities are involved in training our dogs.
Q.  Do the dogs live with their handlers?
A.  Yes.  Each dog is assigned to only one handler who is responsible for the care of the dog.  The dogs live at home with their handler in a specially constructed kennel provided by the city.
Q. How old are the dogs when they start training?
A.  Dogs are carefully screened and tested before they begin training.  To properly test the canine's drive, they must be about 1 and 1/2 years old. We won't accept a dog older than three years of age. 
Q. How old are the dogs when they retire?
A.  It largely depends upon their health, but generally a Police Dog can look to retire at the ripe old age of 8 or 9 years.
Q.  Where do they go when they retire?
A.  It has been the city's practice to let the dogs live out the remainder of their lives with the handlers whom they worked their career with.
Q.  How long are the dogs trained?
A.  The State of Florida requires each dog and handler team to complete a 400-hour basic canine school.  The Tampa Police Department extends that training to about 560 hours.
Q.  How do officers get selected to become canine handlers?
A.  Officer must pass a rigorous screening process first.  Things considered are dependability, ability to work without direct supervision, and internal affairs reviews.  Candidates must also have been an officer for at least two years and have a favorable recommendation from their immediate supervisor.
Q.  Where does TPD get their dogs from?
A.  While donations from the public are welcome, nearly all will not pass our tough screening process.  We generally get our dogs imported from Europe or canine venders across the United States.
Q.  How much do the dogs cost?
A.  That varies depending on the breed, age, and any previous training the dog may have had.  A good figure could be between $4,000.00 to $7,000.00.
Q.  Who pays for the care of the dogs? 
A.  The City of Tampa pays for all of the dog's upkeep.  They are provided with the very best medical care available.  Their food, flea spray, bowls, toys, leashes, and all other equipment are also provided by the city.
Q.  Are the dogs' safe when left in their patrol cars while the handler isn't there?
A.  Absolutely!  The canine vehicles are equipped with the most up-to-date canine safety devices on the market.  Heat sensors in the car will activate the car's horn, roll down the back windows and turn on a fan in the car if the dog's area gets too warm.  Remote control door opening ensures the dog can get out of the car to assist the handler at the touch of a button or in any other emergency situation.
Q.  How is a dog able to smell so well?
A.  A number of things contribute to the dog's keen sense of smell.  Their long snouts have a large turbinate bone structure that holds millions of scent receptor cells, plus the olfactory lobe of their brain is much larger than that of a human being.
Q.  Is hurting a Police Dog the same as hurting a Police Officer?
A.  Injuring or killing a Police Dog is a 3rd Degree Felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years in prison.