One police dog is challenging Pit Bull stereotypes by living life as a hero. Her tragic past fated her for important work as a narcotics detector, missing persons finder, and Pit Bull breed ambassador.
Meet Kiah, New York’s first Pit Bull K9 police dog, who spends her days serving her community and changing the world’s views on her breed. According to reports, Kiah was found behind a convenience store in Texas after having been beaten over the head and abandoned there.
Kiah was then placed in a local shelter, where she was eventually picked up by Universal K9, an organization that trains dogs to do police work. Thanks to a partnership between Universal K9 and New York’s Animal Farm Foundation, Kiah made it to New York. Once there, she started work as part of the Poughkeepsie Police Department’s K9 unit as the state’s first and only Pit Bull in service.
Her partner is Officer Justin Bruzgul, and together they work to detect narcotics and track missing people. Bruzgul speaks highly of Kiah, stating that she is intelligent, obedient, friendly, and playful. Despite her rough past, she has found a bright future with Bruzgul and the rest of the Poughkeepsie Police Department.
Kiah lives with Bruzgul, and also has 2 canine siblings as well (not police dogs). Bruzgul’s sister owns a Pit Bull, and he has expressed frustration with their stereotypes, along with a hope to help turn it all around.
Universal K9’s director of operations, Brad Croft, said that Kiah is one of the top 3 dogs he has placed. He also noted that she is among the first to stand out in his mind when thinking of the hundreds of dogs he has trained.
Kiah’s happy ending was made possible by her sad beginnings. When she made it to the Texas shelter Austin Pets Alive!, they collaborated with their partners at Universal K9 and Animal Farm Foundation to ensure that Kiah (and other dogs) made it into training in the Detection Dogs Program.
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Though this program is generally designated for specific purebred dogs, Kiah met the qualifications necessary to perform the training, including:
According to Croft, many police agencies are resistant to taking on Pit Bulls, due to unfair assumptions about the breed. Pit Bulls are working dogs who were bred to be obedient and fulfill tasks as instructed by their owners. This is what makes their stories so sad; they do exactly as they are told to please their masters, even at risk to their own safety – including fighting other dogs.
Their notoriety as fighting dogs has helped carve out their reputations as a vicious breed, but most of them are anything besides vicious. Kiah is not only working as a police dog, but as a goodwill ambassador of her breed. Her mission is to change the minds of those who think Pit Bulls are all bad, and she is doing a wonderful job at it.
Bruzgul states that she is great with children, including his nieces and nephews. In November, Kiah even won the ASPCA Public Service Award for the work she has accomplished.
Kiah’s story is one of countless pit bull tales where abuse and neglect result in nothing more than a willingness to love the next human more. Dogs, especially pitties, do not take their past out on the people around them.
They remember their experiences, but they seek only to express their love and affection for their human companions, and to do anything possible to please their masters. Sadly, not all people understand this breed.
Many Pit Bulls are euthanized every year because of society’s misinterpretation of their behavior and demeanor. Organizations like Universal K9 and Animal Farm Foundation are working tirelessly to stop the tragic outcomes of most Pit Bulls in their tracks, and turn the perception that they are vicious into the understanding that they are loyal, affectionate, emotionally intelligent, and in the case of Kiah, true lifesavers.