What happens to sniffer dogs when they retire?

At SafeLane Global, our dogs have jobs…but when they have worked hard enough to protect lives, this is how we find them forever retirement homes.

This is the story of Spike and Kenia, two former sniffer dogs who worked in Somalia who have found loving forever homes in South Africa – despite the coronavirus lockdown adding complexity to the rehoming process.

What happens to sniffer dogs when they retire?

At SafeLane, we have specialist search dogs – they can sniff out explosives or narcotics or detect intruders.  Every day they support our humanitarian, commercial and governmental clients around the world.

When these working dogs come to the natural end of their professional lives, they retire and we re-home them.

Spike and Kenia are both perfect examples of what happens to working dogs when they are ready to put up their paws in retirement! 

Both were deployed to Somalia where they worked as explosive detection dogs (EDDs) from 2016 – 2020.  Kenia suffered a life threatening snake bite, and thanks to swift action by her handler and the SafeLane vet, her life was saved.  It was decided that she should retire after such a frightening experience.

Her professional buddy Spike retired with her, and both returned to our canine training school in South Africa just before the coronavirus lockdown, and lived with a handful of other retired dogs all ready for adoption.

Rehoming dogs during the pandemic

Adoptions nearly came to a standstill due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.  But, during lockdown in April, a young man called James made contact with our team and expressed an interest in adopting one of our retired dogs.

The training school has an essential service certificate, because the South African government recognises that the facility has to continue to operate (in accordance with the government lockdown restrictions).  And, as James was willing to support and test run an altered adoption application process, with an adherence to social distancing requirements, it was decided to trial rehoming during the pandemic.

Altering the adoption process to stay safe from Covid-19

The usual adoption process was altered and conducted remotely via emails, sharing of photos and many video calls with the school team.  

This process provided the information the school needed for James to pass the application tests, and he was invited to visit the training school and the dogs.

James was issued a travel permit, and the SafeLane team welcomed him with the correct coronavirus PPE, ensuring a hand washing and repeated sanitiser regime was implemented.  James then met the dogs one on one to find that special connection.  

The selection proved very difficult for him – but only until he laid eyes on Spike.  It was love at first sight – an instant bond!

retired sniffer dog Spike

James returned home with Spike at the beginning of May and he seamlessly became part of the family and settling well into his new environment and surroundings.

Here’s what James said:

“Spike is highly intelligent, playful and gentle, the perfect all round dog. I am incredibly grateful to Talitha and her highly professional staff at the school who made the adoption process so easy, especially given the issues caused by Covid-19. They provided me with all the information and support I could have asked for. They took extreme hygiene precautions and ensured there was industrial grade hand wash, masks for all their staff – and made me feel extremely comfortable, the professionalism was very impressive.”

Following the success of Spike’s placement with James, his girlfriend Christine immediately reached out to SafeLane to identify if another dog could join the family!

The same application process was conducted, and as we reported last week, Kenia was found to be a perfect match for Christine. 

Retired sniffer dog Kenia

Knowing she would be reunited with James and Spike at home was such good news for everyone at SafeLane!

Adopting retired working dogs

SafeLane does still have retired working dogs waiting for new forever homes.  They are living well at the school in South Africa in the meantime. 

By continuing with a coronavirus-appropriate social distance rehoming approach, and respecting the current lockdown restrictions, we will hopefully not deny the retired dogs their chance to find new homes during a time where there is so much sadness being reported globally.

We hope you like the pictures of Spike and Kenia with their new parents.  If you live in Pretoria or surrounding areas and are interested in adoption, please contact the team at the canine training facility who will be happy to help.