“Pit Bull” K9 Helps Bring a Boy with Autism Back Home to His Family

“Pit Bull” K9 Helps Bring a Boy with Autism Back Home to His Family

“Pit Bull” K9 Brings Boy with Autism Back Home to His Family


May, 2018

You’ve heard all about our “pit bull” detection dogs. You know that they keep drugs off of the streets. What you might not know is that that’s only part of their job.

The dogs and the police officers with whom we place them help their communities in all types of ways – including keeping children safe.

On May 12, K9 Colt and Officer Bri Mecca reunited an autistic boy with his family.


After receiving a call that the boy had run away, something which is common for people with autism, multiple officers attempted to talk to the boy and get him to ride in their car back to his family. They were all unsuccessful.

But Officer Mecca knew she had something the other officers didn’t – a dog.

She asked the little boy if he liked dogs and the child gave an enthusiastic yes. 

Officer Mecca told us:

“I [asked him], ‘would you like to see mine? He’s in the car’. The child perked up and walked with me as if nothing was going wrong.”

When K9 Colt got out of the car the boy was so excited. His presence broke through the barrier none of the other officers could find their way around. Officer Mecca asked if Colt could walk the boy home. Again, his response was an enthusiastic yes!

The three of them walked to the boy’s apartment building. Colt gave the boy kisses on the elevator ride up to his home!

Officer Mecca’s quick thinking and K9 Colt’s gentle personality reunited a boy with his family.

Our “pit bull” detection dog program isn’t just about fighting crime, it’s about communities and family.

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Help These Two K9 Heroes Get the Recognition They Deserve

Help These Two K9 Heroes Get the Recognition They Deserve

Help These K9 Heroes Get the Recognition They Deserve


March 2018

Not one, but two of our narcotics detection dogs have been nominated for a Hero Dog Award!

Celebrating heroes on “both ends of the leash,” the Hero Dog Awards is put on by American Humane. The organization will fly seven finalists and their humans to a gala in Hollywood. The ceremony will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel.

The best part is that American Humane will donate $2,500 to each finalist’s charity partners. The charity partner of the winner of the American Hero Dog Award will receive an additional $5,000.

K9 Kano

K9 Kano works in Stafford, Kansas with Officer Mason Paden. The hero wasn’t on the job long before he sniffed out over $7,500 in illegal marijuana! Because of this bust, the police dog had a meteoric rise to fame and received lots of press for his good work. This press changes people’s perception of dogs labeled “pit bull” and provides a springboard for the conversation that it’s a dog’s individual nature that determines their destiny, not their heritage or history.

His charity partner for the contest is

Vote for Kano


K9 Sheeva

K9 Sheeva is from Harris County Animal Shelter in Texas. Now she has a very important job with the Littleville Police Department in Alabama. She is the first non-specific breed police dog in the state. Her partner, Officer John Cantrell says that Sheeva is “living the American Dream” because she “came from nothing and become something” – and that something is a hero who keeps her community safe.

You can follow K9 Sheeva on Instagram @K9_Sheeva.

Her charity partner is K9s4Cops and her sponsor is the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis.


Vote for K9 Sheeva

Both K9 Sheeva and K9 Kano are proof that shelter dogs have the potential to do the same work as purebred, purpose-bred dogs. We should never make assumptions about a dog based on their appearance, heritage, or history. We should always look at the dog in front of us and ask “Who are you?”

Want to learn more about how you can participate in our work?

Officer Lucky Huff and K9 Wilson Share a Journey of Friendship and Bravery

Officer Lucky Huff and K9 Wilson Share a Journey of Friendship and Bravery

Officer Lucky Huff and K9 Wilson Share a Journey of Friendship and Bravery
February, 2018
When Officer Lucky Huff of the McCurtain Police Department in Oklahoma was on his way to San Antonio, Texas to meet his new partner, he was full of nerves. He thought “Will he like me? What will he act like? What if we don’t bond?” Officer Huff’s potential partner, Wilson, isn’t your normal police officer. He’s a dog.

Like many of the dogs chosen for our detection dog training program, Wilson is high energy. That high energy isn’t ideal for a lot of families, but it’s perfect for police work when it’s paired with the drive and focus of a dog who loves to learn.

When they met, it wasn’t an immediate bond. Some handlers can instantly hang out with their dogs on the couch and make time for belly rubs. Every dog has a different personality and some take a little bit of time to become best friends with their human. Still, Officer Huff told us: 

“When I took the leash, we started a journey that I’m thankful for every single day.”
The pair did bond and he says that he believes their bond is stronger than the one other handlers have with their K9s (though we are sure they would disagree!). He says there’s something special about having to earn one another’s trust. Earning a shelter dog’s trust is a common experience for adopters, so we’re sure many of you can identify with this experience.

Though they didn’t become best friends overnight, they cemented their friendship while they were still in training. Officer Huff told us:

“At the hotel one night I let him out of his crate and he finally laid on the bed with me. He was trusting me. [Now] Wilson knows when he gets home and the collar comes off that means its relax time. He turns into a big baby and wants love from everyone in the house.”
Despite the adjustment period, K9 Wilson never had a problem doing his job. When it came time for his state certification, the K9 found all 28 grams of narcotics!

The pair do have a strong bond, but Officer Huff let us in on a little secret, he might not be K9 Wilson’s one true love:

“My wife Shannon is his true love at home! I give the orders but she gives the lovings.”

(All together now, everyone say, “AWWWWW!”)

When they aren’t busting criminals, Officer Huff and K9 Wilson are supporting police officers in need with the S.O.L.E. Six Foundation, which Huff founded. The organization provides funds to police officers, first responders, and their families should they be injured or worse in the line of duty.

We want to give a huge thank you to Officer Huff for becoming a part of the AFF family and for all of his support of our work. And an even bigger thank you to him and to K9 Wilson for selflessly protecting their community and working to keep it drug-free.

Want to learn more about how you can participate in our work?

From Shelter Dogs to Police Dogs, 5 K9s Who Saved the Day in 2016

Our Detection Dog Program, in partnership with Universal K9, swept the internet and made headlines earlier this year when the ASPCA granted her their public service award. But, our other police detection dogs deserve some of the spotlight, too.

We asked Brad Croft, the founder of Universal K9, to put together his list of the top 5 detection dogs from this year. Here’s who made the grade:

#1 K9 Wilson – Normangee Police Department, Texas

Handler – Chief Charles Herford

Source: Universal K9

Source: Universal K9

This over achieving pup ranks number one on our list because his keen detection skills resulted in multiple felony arrests. K9 Wilson is cross trained in narcotics/tracking and he excels at both (obviously!). He and his handler continue to protect the community they serve in.

#2 K9 Ace – Superior Police Department, Arizona

Handler – Officer Bryan Lawrence

Source: Universal K9

Source: Universal K9

K9 Ace came to Universal K9 through Austin Pets Alive! He appears totally mellow and chill until you bring out a ball for him to play with and then he kicks his energy into high gear! This is a great mix of attributes for a detection dog. K9 Ace proved his skills early on when he found a kilo of meth after being on the job for only a few weeks. 

#3 K9 Piglet – Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, Minnesota

Handler – Officer Travis Kemp

Source: Universal K9

Source: Universal K9

Don’t let his cute name fool you, this amazing dog, who originated from the ACS Foster Team in San Antonio Texas, found 1 kilo of meth on his 3rd day on the job! This pup’s nose definitely has some major skills!

#4 K9 Tweaker – Grimes County Police Department, Texas

Handler – Steven Siracusa

Source: Universal K9

Source: Universal K9

K9 Tweaker is another pup from Austin Pets Alive! Her nose isn’t her only great quality. K9 Tweaker loves to solves problems, a trait she was happy to show of in school, where she was top of her class in playing training games. 

#5 – K9 Mollie – Appalachia, Virginia PD

Handler – Officer Kenneth Joyner


Source: Universal K9

This little girl’s hails from the Buster Foundation. Her journey with Universal K9 for narcotics training gave her a stable home and a great job. After a few short weeks on the job K9 Mollie and her handler are cleaning up the drugs in their town of Appalachia, Virginia.

We have full details on our detection dog program on our website. You can get current updates on these amazing K9s on our Facebook page and also on Universal K9’s page.

From Shelter to Working K9: “Pit Bull” Dogs Keeping Communities Safe

From Shelter to Working K9: “Pit Bull” Dogs Keeping Communities Safe

It is the mission of Animal Farm Foundation to secure equal treatment and opportunity for “pit bull” dogs and in an effort to meet that mission, Animal Farm Foundation has formed a collaboration with Austin Pets Alive! and Universal K9 so that rescued and sheltered “pit bull” dogs can be considered for Detection Dog work, which is traditionally reserved for pure bred, purpose bred dogs.

Potential detection dog candidates are selected from the Austin Pets Alive! shelter system to participate in training led by Universal K9, located in San Antonio, Texas. Once there, Brad Croft founder of Universal K9, trains and places the dogs in police departments around the country at no charge. Animal Farm Foundation provides a sponsorship to Universal K9 to help cover the costs of the officer training. We recently had the chance to ask Brad a few questions about the program.

AFF: What are some of the things you train the dogs to do?

Brad: Universal K9 trains dogs for narcotics, explosives, cadaver, and arson detection. We also train dogs to track for criminal apprehension and have trained dogs for vapor detection as well.

K9 Loll and the Chief  of Barlette Texas PD

K9 Loll and the Chief of Barlette Texas PD

Can you tell our readers about the partnership between Universal K9 and Austin Pets Alive? When did you first get the idea to assess shelter dogs at APA! for your program?

I reached out to APA! and other local shelters about three years ago letting them know that I was seeking high drive dogs. Mike Kaviani, the Dog Behavior Program Manager at APA!, responded and I went out to test a few of their dogs. The ones I choose were all “pit bull” dogs. It can be challenging to place dogs that are labeled as “pit bulls” or “pit bull mixes,” because of misconceptions and prejudices, but I was able to find a couple of police departments early on that were open minded and I was able to place the dogs.

Has the response from police departments to “pit bull” detection dogs changed over the past 3 years? Are they more willing to accept them?

Many are still reluctant. But the sponsorship through AFF is helping to open some minds to the possibility of accepting a “pit bull” dog into their department.

What qualities are you looking for in a detection dog? If you transfer a dog from APA! for training, but it turns out they’re not a good fit, what happens to the dogs?

I look for dogs who are high drive, confident, and curious. If they’re strongly motivated by toys, that’s a plus. The dogs that don’t make it into the program are adopted out through us or APA!

K9 Libby

K9 Libby

It seems there is a common misconception by both the public and the working dog industry that dogs can’t be working K9s unless they are a specific breed or bred for the purpose of law enforcement work. In your experience, have you found that shelter dogs are just as capable of doing the work?

Any dog that has the drive, confidence, and desire to work can do it! Breed does not dictate a dog’s ability to work. I personally have a mutt – I have no idea what breed mix she is – but she is the best working dog I have ever come across! She can find narcotics and track people better than any “typical” police dog I’ve ever seen.

How many “pit bull” dogs have you placed with law enforcement? Can you tell us about one or two of these placements and the work they’re currently doing in their communities?

At this point we’ve trained and placed about 10 “pit bull” dogs with law enforcement agencies around the country. There are two dogs that really stand out right now.

K9 Ruby

K9 Ruby

K9 Libby with the Montgomery County, TX Constables was recently featured in People Magazine and has been dubbed “The World’s Raddest Police Dog” across social media for her work.  K9 Ruby with the Chattahoochee Hills Police Department in GA made her first bust this month. Both dogs have their own Facebook pages and have lots of fans cheering them on!

Both are performing very well and making a huge difference in the communities in which they serve. It’s really awesome and I’m very happy to be a small part of it.

Thank you Brad for being much more than a small part in this important work!

To learn more about the detection dog program, please visit our website.