You should know by now that Florida isn’t exactly on the same playing field as the rest of the world. Things in Florida tend to be a little bit… different.
In true Florida style, there’s one police department in Florida that’s making people do a double-take. Their interactions with the infamous “Florida Man” are a little unique, thanks to their special breed of officers. While some departments would be lucky to employ 32 humans, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office employs 32 K9s! In addition to their human colleagues, of course.
If Pasco County sounds familiar to you, it may be because you saw them up close and personal during the heyday of Live PD. K9 Shep and his partner were a fan favorite.
That bravery. The uniform. Those muscles flexing on a takedown. The gorgeous face! I mean, could anybody resist Shep?
Shep may have made all the ladies swoon, but he has a whole entourage of other K9s sniffing around the district. The K9s at the PSO are tasked with a variety of responsibilities. From search and rescue, apprehension, and drug detection to warrant sweeps, bomb threats, and assisting with SWAT operations, these four-legged heroes do it all.
But Wait, There’s More!
We all have a general idea of what police K9s are capable of, but it just wouldn’t be a Florida story if there wasn’t a surprising twist, now would it? Hear me out. This is a good one for once.
The PSO has a specialized team called BHIT – Behavioral Health Intervention Team. BHIT is made up of a group of specialized officers who work in partnership with local mental health providers. Their goal is to keep people safe and assist them in getting the mental health help they need. Whether it’s following up on an overdose or trying to bring comfort to someone after a tragedy, BHIT is there with their cutest officers in tow.
You might be a sucker for a man in uniform, but just wait until you see these hunky heroes!
Meet The K9s
K9 Mango was born in the Fall of 2018 and began his career with PSO in April of 2020. Mango was trained by inmates that the Brevard County Jail in their “Paws & Stripes” program.
During this training, the inmates were able to learn valuable life skills while Mango learned to be a very good boy! So good in fact that K9 Mango is certified through AKC’s Good Citizen program and is a nationally certified therapy dog. Mango responds with his fellow BHIT members to provide comfort and a calming presence.
Basically, his job is to just be cute and cuddly! Could you ask for anything more? Oh, he also likes riding on tiny trains – as if he wasn’t adorable enough already!
I met Mango and I can’t confirm or deny having the thought of luring him into my car with a Pupperoni because he was that darn cute! But, you know… you can’t kidnap a cop or whatever.
K9 Charlie is a Pit Bull mix and he’s the real OG. Literally.
Charlie was PSO’s first therapy dog! He was also born in the Fall of 2018 and was rescued from the Brevard County Animal Shelter. Just like Mango, Charlie was trained by inmates at the Brevard County Jail before he joined the ranks as a therapy dog at PSO.
Meet PSO’s newest rookie, Tacoma!
Tacoma is a 3-year-old Chocolate Lab. Just like his other fuzzy brothers in blue, Tacoma was rescued from the Brevard County Animal Shelter and trained by inmates. K9 Tacoma is certified as an AKC Good Citizen and holds certification as a Law Enforcement Investigative Therapy Dog. He is currently assigned to the Community Engagement Bureau where he spends his time meeting people in the community and making them smile.
K9 JoJo was previously a narcotics detection K9. JoJo worked in the jail before he was diagnosed with cancer last year.
Due to JoJo’s cancer diagnosis, he had to be medically retired but JoJo wasn’t ready to call it quits! His cancer is now in remission and JoJo has a new career as a therapy K9!
Smiles Are Their Superpower
They’ll show up to car accidents to comfort someone in distress or visit someone at home who was recently discharged from the hospital. They’ll even come by and comfort somebody who may be having thoughts of suicide. These dogs and their officers will do anything they can to bring a smile to someone’s face during their most trying times!
Their training isn’t over once they join the department. Just like any member of law enforcement, all of the K9s go through continual training to make sure they’re up to snuff. When they aren’t brushing up on their skills, demonstrating their work in the community, or making one of the many calls for service they make per year, these guys kick back and relax with a nice Kong just like any other dog.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and their incredible team of two-legged and four-legged officers are changing the face of police work. Their dedication to implementing innovative interventions is paving the way for the future of public safety. Their aim is to recognize the factors that influence crime while also decriminalizing mental health. These incredible K9s and their partners are at the forefront of this mission, and if that doesn’t make your tail wag, I don’t know what will!