When Leonard, a stout young pit bull, arrived on the doorstep of the Union County Humane Society in Ohio a few months ago, the staff had little hope for his prospects of being adopted. Leonard was deemed "aggressive," and that meant he was more likely to be euthanized than sent home with a new family. But Jim Alloway, the center director, saw something different in the dog. And thanks to his observation, Leonard has a future that includes work, play and lots of belly rubs.
As luck would have it, Alloway has an extensive background of working with police dogs. He realized Leonard's aggression was really a very strong desire to play. Whenever someone was holding something, Leonard wanted it and would try to grab it. As a pet in the average family, this may not be a desirable trait. But this strong "prey drive" made him a great candidate for training as a police dog.
So Alloway called Storm Dog K-9 training. After an initial round of testing, Mike Pennington, the owner of the training facility, agreed to take Leonard on and train him to sniff out narcotics. (Leonard wasn't a good candidate for tracking and catching suspects because he loves people way too much.)
Before his training with Pennington, Leonard didn't even know basic commands. But after a few weeks of hard work — which his trainers said he absolutely loved — Leonard was fully certified as a police dog, becoming Ohio's first pit bull K-9 officer.
Leonard was paired with Terry Mitchell, Clay Township's Chief of Police. Mitchell told the local ABC affiliate that he was unsure at first about the idea of using a pit bull as a K-9. But the pair bonded immediately.
"I scheduled a time to come down and see him, and after about 10 minutes, I knew this was the dog for us," Mitchell said.
Leonard officially started work with the force this week. When he has his police vest on, Mitchell says the pup is all business and ready to tackle his narcotics-sniffing job. Off-duty though, Leonard is just a sweet, playful pup, hopping on Mitchell's lap for evening naps. Oh, and according to Mitchell, he snores horribly.
Leonard — and Mitchell — couldn't be happier.