Pit bull to fight crime in Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie police officer Justin Bruzgul looks on as Kiah runs an obstacle course at K9 school in Stone Ridge, N.Y. (Mike Groll)

The new rookie at one New York police department is breaking old stereotypes. It's a pit bull terrier, a dog bred for fighting and often in the news for its aggressive behavior.

But female Kiah, weighing in at a muscular 60 pounds, will soon be a valuable addition to the police force, fighting crime in the city of Poughkeepsie.

When she graduates on Friday from the canine training school in Stone Ridge today, Kiah will be one of just a few pit bull terriers to serve as a police dog.

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Meet Kiah, the newest rookie on the force



German shepherds and Belgian Malinois are the breeds most commonly employed as police and military dogs, trained to chase and detain suspects, or to find drugs, cadavers and missing people. Rarely is a pit bull called to duty.

Kiah will be serving the Poughkeepsie Police Department to detect drugs and track missing people. She's also a goodwill ambassador for her breed.

"(If the dog has) the energy to use her nose and want to please her handler and do that working job, it doesn't matter what breed it is," her handler, police officer Justin Bruzgul, said.

Kiah was found in a Texas animal shelter after her previous owner was arrested for animal cruelty. She was given to the police, thanks to a partnership between San Antonio-based charity Universal K9, and Animal Farm Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Dutchess County that works to ensure "equal treatment and opportunity" for pit bulls.

"It's about leveling the playing field, it's about proving once and for all that the dogs labelled 'pit bull' can do all the things that the dogs not labelled 'pit bull' can do," Stacey Coleman, Animal Farm Foundation's Executive Director, explained.
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