He served. He protected. And now, his future is in limbo.
Rex, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, was recently retired from his position as a K-9 for the Albuquerque Police Department. Typically, a retired police dog would get the luxury of spending the rest of his days at the home of his handler. Instead, Rex is in the custody of animal services and as of earlier today was facing possible euthanasia. Fortunately, the story took a turn for the better this afternoon.
An article in NPR published this morning reported that Rex was with animal services because his former handler, who also retired, was not able to take him in due to the fact that he has a small child at home.
Belgian Malinois, although hard-working, dedicated animals, require a significant amount of exercise each day. Jobs like police work and military service benefit this high-energy breed.
“Because he was working and being trained/exercised/handled every day, Rex was [previously] kenneled at the handler's home,” Officer Tanner Tixier of the Albuquerque Police Department told AKC.org. “However, that was not a viable option during both their retirements.” In a video below, police spokesperson Celina Espinoza explains that Rex is very work-driven and not a good fit as a family pet.
The officer who handled Rex, Scott Weimerskirch, was on the scene with Rex in 2014 when homeless camper James Boyd was shot by two other officers, who are currently facing charges for the incident.
Continuing to work at his age was also not an option. “You have to remember these dogs aren’t trained as family pets. It would not be worth his frustration to be bonded with another handler,” Espinoza was quoted saying. “For him, it would be very daunting.”
So what to do with the retired K-9? As of this afternoon, two rescue organizations stepped up and offered to take him in.
“We have been speaking with two separate rescue organizations today that specialize in Police/Military K-9s,” Tixier states. “A decision has been made that no matter which organization we choose, Rex will not be euthanized.”
One of those organizations is Mission K9 Rescue, who handled the rescue of 12 military dogs that were left in a Virginia kennel this summer. “I would hate to see them euthanize a K-9 for simply being old and cranky,” says Mission K9 Rescue cofounder Bob Bryant.
The personality of the Belgian Malinois got a significant amount of attention surrounding the release of the movie Max earlier this year. Advocates for the breed were concerned that people would select this breed and not be able to provide the amount of exercise the dog needs.