You never know what a dog’s past is, no matter how plaintively they look into your eyes. When you’re at the shelter, passing row after row of pleading faces, each one of those dogs has a past that they can’t communicate to you.
Some have been scraping together a living while wandering on the streets. Others knew love for a brief time until they outgrew their puppy cuteness and settled into bad habits that their owners didn’t have the patience or interest to work through.
Some have stories you wouldn’t believe, like the tale attached to this unassuming-looking yellow lab named Ringo. When Randy Hare saw the dog’s photo on a shelter’s website, he recognized the pup immediately and was instantly both sad and livid.
After nine years of dutiful work, you’d think he’d be more valued by his handler — and many times, the bond between dog and handler is a sight to behold. But after being given retirement in November, Ringo soon found himself at the pound, homeless in his twilight years after a lifetime of faithful service.
When Hare discovered his old trainee has been offloaded, he quickly solved the problem by adopting the dog himself. Hare says that this kind of treatment for former K-9s isn’t all that unusual.
“The treatment of dogs who are involved in law-enforcement is sometimes really really good and sometimes it’s not so good,” he told WAPT. “A lot of times they’re treated like equipment and when they’re treated like equipment, sometimes they’re disposed of like equipment.”
“Regardless of how it happened or why it happened, it happened,” he said, along with mentioning that his trust with the police department is in jeopardy. He hopes that they do better to ensure the safety and comfort of their canine officers, but he has his doubts.
Hare himself has been training dogs since the ’70s. “I went through a period early on when I thought I knew everything,” he wrote on his website. “I really grew as a trainer and a person when I faced the fact that you never stop learning and you never know it all.”
“I believe the dogs that I have trained have probably taught me more than I have taught them.”
JPD Detective Carl Ellis, Ringo’s handler for all those years, has since been demoted, reassigned to patrol duty instead.
The JPD has also announced plans to start sending out “welfare checks” for their dogs, both current and retired, in an attempt to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
In a statement, the department affirmed that it “respects and holds our canines with high regard just as we do any other officer within our department. They are family, and we do not feel they deserve anything less than a loving home in retirement.”
Fortunately for Ringo, his trainer has a big heart and will provide for him for the rest of his days. If only every dog were so lucky, the world would be a better place.
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