US Police dogs given metal teeth
IT all began with Apak, a German Shephered working with police in Florida. He had had his canines damaged in previous encounters with lawbreakers and was reluctant to sink his teeth into anything that could cause him pain or further damage. So in an attempt to extend Apak's working life, as he was still a young dog, the sherriff's department had him fitted with strong, new titanium teeth.
The remedy was more than successful. Apak now has a super-strong bite and lawbreakers are more likely to surrender to police when confronted by the sight of a dog baring two metal teeth in its upper jaw.
Now an estimated 600 dogs working for police and the military in the United States every year have damaged teeth replaced by titanium teeth.
It has been found that the replacements are an economical option as it costs about $US600 per tooth for replacements, but to replace and train a new dog costs more than $US10,000.
"The four large canines are what anyone sees first when a dog opens its mouth or bares its teeth, so if the dog is barking and the sunlight reflects on its metal teeth it certainly encourages the person to back down", said Jim Watson, secretary of the North American Police and Working Dogs Assn.
A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the practice as being aimed as much at intimidating people as for the welfare of the dog. However, considering the added working life of the dogs, their better health because of the continuing dental care and reductions in cost, it is a practice not likely to be discontinued.