WESTAMPTON >> Burlington City police have a new recruit and he has loads of energy and a nose for sniffing out trouble.
Meet Dutch. He’s an 11-month-old German Shepherd-Pitbull mix who is the latest success story from the Burlington County Animal Shelter.
Dutch was surrendered to the shelter about three months ago, but was rescued by the Burlington City Police Department, which is pairing the new recruit with Officer Justin Zeuner and his family, who recently lost his previous K9 partner, Tonto.
Officer Zeuner and his family completed the adoption of Dutch May 25 at the Animal Shelter in Westampton and the two are scheduled to begin training at the Philadelphia K9 Training Academy later this summer.
Dutch is the second dog to be rescued from the shelter to be trained as a police K9 during the last year. Arrow, a young Belgian Malinois, was adopted by the Lower Southampton police force in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after he was saved by the Rescue 22 Foundation, an East Greenwich-based animal rescue group.
Arrow and his handler, Lower Southampton Police Officer Kyle Heasley, were among a large group of police and shelter volunteers who were at the shelter for Dutch’s adoption on May 25, and both dogs were given bullet-resistant vests donated by the U.S. War Dogs Association.
“This is a great day to be in Burlington County. We witnessed another dog from our shelter find both a new home and a new occupation as a police K9 and we also saw them get new protective vests,” O’Connell said. “Just like our police officers are protected so are our four-legged officers.”
Bob Thompson, a founding member of the U.S. War Dogs Association, said he learned about Dutch and Arrow from a neighbor who volunteers at the shelter and that the group’s leadership quickly agreed to donate two vests. Each is valued at around $1,000, he said.
“For us, it was a no-brainer. It was an easy thing to do,” Thompson said.
Commissioner O’Connell said Dutch and Arrow are both inspiring examples of the success the shelter’s staff and volunteers have had finding new forever homes for the dogs and cats that come through the shelter’s doors.
Close to 500 dogs and cats have been adopted from the shelter so far this year. Another 166 have been fostered by rescue groups.
Last year, more than 1,700 dogs and cats were adopted from the shelter.
“We’re grateful these police departments saw the potential in these two wonderful dogs and we hope that others will hear about them and be inspired to come to our shelter and give another dog or cat here a chance. Your next companion could be waiting for you,” O’Connell said.