Recently, Ramu – one of the police dogs that retired last month, died a lonely death at an animal shelter. He spent 12 years of his life fighting criminals and sniffing out bombs. In his death, he’s turned savior for his fellow canines.
Ramu was sent to an animal shelter as are all retiring dogs, to enable them to lead a peaceful autumnal life. But Ramu missed his handler’s love and affection and struggled to cope with his new surroundings. He pined for his handler and he died within two weeks.
“Most police dogs who miss their handlers are depressed once they retire,” says KM Puttaswamy, a handler in Bengaluru since 1987.
However, Ramu’s ordeal managed to draw the attention of the higher-ups in the department. Bhaskar Rao, ADGP (crime and technical wing), who has himself adopted two strays, said Ramu’s death left him distraught and led him to decide that dogs should be left in their care post retirement too.
Police dogs gets their handlers back
“We made a new rule on June 17, empowering handlers to look after their dogs after they retire from service. The department will bear their expenses,” Rao said.
Puttaswamy, who’s trained more than 50 dogs since 1987 and been a handler for four dogs, said, “These dogs develop an emotional relationship with their handlers and suffer from depression when separated.” Police dogs literally come of age under their handlers. The department adopts German Shepherds, Dobermans and Labradors when they are three months old, from reputed agencies after vetting their pedigree.
Once a dog is enlisted for a squad, it is assigned a handler. The dog spends the rest of its years with the same handler. The relationship between a handler and a dog is similar to a master-disciple or a parent-child.
“A police dog’s routine is known only to its handler, who can sense when the dog is hungry and needs to be taken out to attend nature’s call. Dogs taken away from their handlers are like fish out of water and lose the battle for survival. In their old age, it is better they remain with their handlers,” says Ninga Reddy Patil, inspector, dog squad.
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