K-9 & Police Dog Program


Canine to K-9: The ARL's Partnership with

Midwest K-9 Detection

It takes an exceptional dog to be a police K-9. The dog must have a high ball drive, a drive to search, the confidence to go into any situation, and the determination and perseverance to keep up the hunt for as long as it takes.

Dogs with the qualities are rare. But for nearly 20 years, ARL shelter dogs have been making a difference across the U.S. and beyond as K-9s, through our partnership with Midwest K-9 Detection.

Midwest K-9 is unique in that it trains shelter dogs (vs. dogs from breeders) and uses only positive reinforcement methods to prepare the dogs for their careers. Of the roughly 250 dogs Midwest K-9 has trained, about 200 of them are ARL alums.

It all starts with our behavior team identifying a dog with the right skills – one who needs a “job” and might thrive as a K-9. If Midwest K-9 sees that same potential, they foster the dog to do more testing. If the dog is a good fit, they begin a 2 to 4 month training program for narcotics detection.

ARL dogs have been placed in law enforcement agencies across the nation and as far away as Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Brazil. Several agencies, including ones in Maryland (above) and Wyoming, have been so impressed with ARL dogs that they have added multiple ARL dogs to their departments.

To date, ARL dogs have removed tens of millions of dollars in cash and drugs from the street. They’ve also placed near the top in multiple certification competitions, and two ARL alum have been awarded National Case of the Year honors from the U.S. Police K-9 Association, the largest such association in the country.

Success Stories

Raven When Raven arrived at the ARL, we not only noticed how social he was with people and how good he was with other dogs, we immediately saw how much he LOVED tennis balls. His ball drive and hunt drive were so intense that we quickly called our partners at Midwest K9 Protection and Detection and told them we had a dog they needed to meet.

Midwest K-9 trains dogs in drug detection and pairs them with law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and beyond. The organization is unique in that it trains shelter dogs (vs. dogs from breeders) and ONLY uses positive-reinforcement methods in preparing dogs for their careers.

When Midwest K-9 evaluated Raven, they knew they could give him a job he needed and would love. The only concern was if an agency would take him due to his appearance. He was the first dog they’d worked with that would be labeled as a “pit bull.”

But Raven excelled in his training – his drive and detection skills were off the charts. And while the Maryland Department of Corrections was initially reluctant to consider him based on appearance, once they saw him working and saw his personality, they had to have him.

As of October, Raven is one of 10 ARL dogs with the Maryland department, of their 50-60 working dogs total. We can’t wait to see where his career takes him and we’re excited that he has opened more doors for dogs that look like him!

K-9 Harley

Harley with the Summit, Illinois Police Department, alerted police to a vehicle, where they found 20 kilos of Fentanyl and 3 kilos of heroin! Estimated street value is $15 million to $20 million. 

K-9 Hunter

Hunter arrived at the ARL as a stray when he was 2 years old. He joined Wyoming Department of Corrections and took 1st place in 2 of the last 4 years in USPCA certifications. He had a successful career in their narcotics division and recently retired in 2020!

K-9 Lionel

Lionel breezed through his training and was placed with the Hickory Hills Police Department in Illinois. While there he was also assigned to a federal task force. In only a month and half of being on the job, he found $75,000 in cash and a half-pound of cocaine!

K-9 Echo

Echo was one of our biggest K-9 stars. She retired from Dallas County Sheriff's Department in 2012 and in 2015 sadly passed away at the age of 14. Here are some of her greatest accomplishments while working in law enforcement. 

  • Found approximately $25 million dollars in illegal drugs and cash
  • Had largest cocaine seizure in the state of Iowa
  • USPCA (US Police Canine Association) National Case of the Year
  • USPCA National competition: 3rd Place
  • USPCA National competition: 2nd Place team (with Mark Addison & K9 Yogi)
  • USPCA region 21 Case of the Year and competition awards
  • Two national certifications and numerous regional certifications
  • Inducted into the Iowa Animal Hall of Fame