© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pittsburgh Police Ready to Welcome 4 New Dogs

Although $7,000 may sound expensive for a German Shepherd puppy, it's not too bad of a price if you ask Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Chris Micknowski.

"It's all about genetics," the bureau's canine trainer told City Council on Wednesday, before the body approved $28,000 for four new police dogs. "It's a superior product. These dogs are bred in Europe for this kind of work."

From the farms and commercial breeding facilities of the Old World, these dogs are shipped to a kennel in Mercer County, where they're raised until about 15 or 16 months of age. That's when the Pittsburgh police, and Micknowski, buy them for $7,000 apiece. From there, the young dogs enroll in the canine version of the city's police academy before serving for a career usually spans five to seven years.

"We're looking for a dog that has the natural drives and traits -- pretty much untrained," said Micknowski. "You could buy that $7,000 dog that we're talking about, but you could also buy the $15,000 to $25,000 dog that's fully trained. We prefer not to do that. We prefer to do a lot of our things in-house."

In fact, Pittsburgh has just one of three canine training facilities in the state, said Micknowski. It's all part of the rich history of Pittsburgh's K-9 unit, which dates back to 1958.

The four new dogs replace an equal number of outgoing canine officers. A pair of them had reached retirement age; the other two were essentially fired.

Today, Pittsburgh's 22 police dogs are spread fairly evenly throughout the city's six police zones. They're used mostly for patrol work -- that is, sniffing out criminals or other people -- although they're also deployed to pick up the scents of guns, ammunition, explosives, and other contraband.

WESA invites you to participate in an audience survey. We’re interested in how you use WESA and what you think of our services. Your responses will help us shape what you hear and read from WESA in the year to come. This is an anonymous survey; it takes about seven minutes to complete and there are several opportunities to provide comments and suggestions. You can take the survey through Tuesday 12/6.