Rescued shelter dog now a top New York canine crime fighter

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

A German shepherd rescued from a New York State animal shelter has become one of the state's top crime fighting dogs.

Known as Sgt. Harry J. Wheeler, the K-9 star who has helped find six bodies in police investigations was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn as an abandoned pup eight years ago, according to Petside. Wheeler was rescued by Liz Keller, who works for the Glen Wild Animal Rescue. Petside writes that when Keller noticed Wheeler's keen perception and protective nature, she thought he would make a good police dog. He then went through a 20-week training course with the New York State Police canine division, and he serves today in Binghamton, N.Y.

Sgt. Wheeler has played a critical role in several police investigations, including helping investigators locate the body of a missing boy, the New York Daily News reported. Police had been unable to find the boy's body for months. "Without the body, [the suspect in the boy's murder] wouldn't have been convicted," New York State Police Trooper Michael Boburka told the paper.

Wheeler even has his own profile page on the New York State Police's website, where his specialties are listed as: "Handler protection, tracking, building searches, narcotics detection, and cadaver detection."

"He's been such a good partner," Boburka told the Huffington Post. "It's hard being a canine handler, but Wheeler made it easy."

And though Wheeler's record is exceptional, he's definitely not the only shelter dog serving on the force. The New York Daily News also reports that about one-third of New York State's police dogs are also rescues. "I don't know why they get such a bad rap," Sgt. David Rivera, who heads the unit, told the paper.

It's been a banner year for crime-fighting German shepherds. Last May, the titanium plated German shepherd who helped take down Osama bin Laden was referred to by the New York Times as "the nation's most courageous dog."

Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department's Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, told the paper that dogs have the skills to help sniff out explosives in war zones, check door handles for explosives and even detect whether a building is full of enemy soldiers.

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