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Former shelter dog fights crime as NY State Trooper

About a third of the dogs serving as part of the New York State Police Canine Unit, are from rescues.

via www.nydailynews.com

Wheeler is hardly the only shelter dog on the team. About a third of the 73 dogs now on the force are rescues.

FOUR-YEAR-OLD Mark Bookal had been missing for months in 2010 when New York State Police Trooper Michael Boburka and his German shepherd, Wheeler, were called in to search the area near the boy’s home in upstate Newburgh.

Armed with a tin bell around his collar and a verbal search command, the skilled cadaver dog sniffed his way around a retaining wall by the banks of the Hudson River and then climbed to the top of a steep woodpile.

When Wheeler started furiously digging, his job was done. “That’s when we knew he had found something,” said Boburka, who has been a canine handler since 1994 and Wheeler’s partner for the past eight years.

After impressing the top brass at the NYSP canine unit, Wheeler completed a 20-week intensive training program held at the sprawling

10,000-square-foot State Police Canine Training Facility in Cooperstown.

Wheeler is hardly the only shelter dog on the team. About a third of the 73 dogs now on the force are rescues.

“I don’t know why they get such a bad rap,” said Sgt. David Rivera, who heads the unit.

The first three dogs in the program, which started in 1975, were bought from the U.S. Army for $10,000.

Since then, all the dogs — mostly German shepherds — have been donated by breeders or found in shelters throughout the Northeast.

The force now includes three bloodhound teams, 28 explosives detection teams and 42 narcotics detection canine teams, of which 16 are cross-trained in cadaver detection. 

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