Puppy training to be K9 has died

Police department mourns loss of puppy training to become a working K9

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A puppy training to become a working K9 for the Pittsburgh Police Department died over the weekend. The department’s Police K-9 Unit made the announcement shortly after the death of Loki, a 10-week-old Bloodhound.

What happened to the puppy in training?

According to the department, Loki was playing with his trainer, Master Patrol Officer Bill Watts, on Saturday morning when he “suddenly collapsed.” The puppy was rushed to a veterinarian for treatment, but died in the afternoon, despite being sedated and provided with antibiotics and oxygen. The veterinarian determined that Loki had died from aspiration pneumonia, which happens when the lungs become inflamed from inhaled food, water, or vomit.

Loki’s training

Master Patrol Officer Kevin Merkel was Loki’s handler. MPO Watts worked with Loki daily. The pup was in training to become a human locator – a K-9 who could “trail, track and find at-risk missing persons, including seniors with Alzheimer’s and autistic children”

The Department stated:

Whereas most K-9’s are deployed to take down “bad guys,” Loki was to find society’s most vulnerable, and to greet them with a friendly lick and loyal presence. “He would have been the best human locator we have,” said Sgt. Sean Duffy.

Loki was taken to Fred Donatelli & Son Cemetery Memorials to be cremated.

“Loki will be sadly missed,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.

(Image via Pittsburgh Police Department)

More news and updates on the National Animal News Facebook page.

Eleven dogs found dead after van breaks down – read the heartbreaking story here.


Airline crew administers oxygen to dog on a flight – read more here.


Our site is supported by stories from Shared.com

Dying man’s wish to find a home for his beloved dogs – read the story here.

Woman horrified by house infestation after walking in the park with her dog – read more here.


15 replies
  1. Barkley's Mom says:

    There was no sign of something wrong before Loki collapsed? I am willing to bet there might have been some sort of underlying problem that caused this. In any event, so sorry for their loss of this precious pup. I know Loki will be missed.

  2. Jo says:

    Sounds like the trainer is an irresponsible person and should be terminated! He forced the puppy, probably berated her and in the end killed her! Not compassionate enough for this person to be a trainer!!

    • Diana Roby says:

      Why are you so angry and full of hate? Blaming the trainer for Loki’s passing and asking for him to be fired is wrong. It sounds like a tragic event not abuse. Mourn Loki’s passing.

      • Sue says:

        No, Jo is right – but it’s a lot worse than being irresponsible. It’s sadistic “training” methods which usually attract the most brutal and perverted individuals. Sometimes there are handlers who are not so inclined, but in order to stay in the K9 unit, they have to be weak followers and do as they’re told. And they do it. This cruelty is STANDARD in K9 units of the military and paramilitary. WAKE UP!

  3. Sue says:

    PEOPLE, WAKE UP!! I worked in this, I know what they do. Behind the scenes the dogs are hanged to unconsciousness (I’ll bet that happened in this case), “helicoptered,” slammed to the ground and kicked in the stomach and groin, and so much more. THEN the media helps them cover it up by quoting the offending handlers saying things like “I love him like a son” (that is a quote from our local paper, from one of our more sadistic handlers).

    They deny, deny, deny, and declare their undying love for the dogs. If a particular handler and/or department is somehow exposed by some brave individual, they SWITCH from denials to justifications.

    Look up “Stop K9 Torture,” and then look up When the “Everybody Does It” Excuse Works: Police Dog …

    It’s time for people to stop believing the lies.

    • Barkley's Mom says:

      That’s right, a 10 week old puppy dies form aspirated pneumonia and it HAS to be because the trainer was “helicoptering and slamming” the puppy to the ground and kicking it in the stomach and groin. Most likely the puppy had an underlying condition like Megaesophagus, which caused the death but let’s not go there, let’s jump immediately to the conclusion that all Police K-9 Officers abuse their K-9’s. In this day and age when the public just waiting to video the police doing something wrong, why is this abuse still going unnoticed and able to be covered up?. You seem to be the only one that has knowledge of this and where is your video proof? and I don’t mean something from 30 years ago! I know the police try to cover up what they want to but it hasn’t stopped the video’s coming out and them being outed in the media.

      • Laura says:

        Barkley’s Mom: Yeah right, never doubt the men in blue. I suppose all of these nine dogs in the same police K9 unit – https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/food-being-investigated-as-possible-cause-of-police-dog-death-20180323-p4z5zy.html – with their “mysterious” cases of megaesophagus were caused by anything other than repeated hangings and/or choking in “training.”

        The big question here is, if you’re so eager to believe nothing horrible goes on behind the scenes in K9 training, why don’t YOU take a camera and somehow locate a training session and get all that heroic kindness on video to prove Sue wrong? You won’t because you can’t, aside from not wanting to, and you can’t because the worst of the real training is obviously well hidden and protected from public scrutiny.

        You want proof, here are a few unwise officers who let themselves slip up in public, so I hope you won’t spin the usual dismissals:

        VIDEO annoyingly out of focus, but showing what they do in public, imagine in private: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk9gZpcnO0g

        Assuming he was not being seen: https://www.thedodo.com/police-officer-caught-on-video-kitting-k9-1325005748.html

        In front of the camera; imagine in privacy: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/watch-cop-snaps-abuses-his-own-k9-after-he-failed-to-find-drugs-during-stop/ and be sure to watch the VIDEO.

        His only mistake was to do this in public: http://dogtime.com/reference/dog-laws/19745-indiana-police-officer-caught-on-camera-allegedly-abusing-k-9-partner

      • Sue says:

        Re: “something from 30 years ago”

        What’s interesting is that 30 years ago, after a K9 was hanged in the station, for no good reason (I think it was a personal show of power to me, since I had just identified myself in the city newsletter as an activist for animal rights), I was told back then that what I witnessed was “the exception to the rule,” and that this type of “correction” had not been used by our department for “over 20 years” before that! I knew they were lying, and had an occasion to catch them again another 6 years later, and did my best to expose it, so the public could see what they were doing. The media NEVER helped. In fact, they assist the police in covering it up.

        In between trying to arrange an unfortunate accident for me by sabotaging my car, they had one of the handlers come to me to say, “Congratulations, you got it stopped.” Another lie. They kept right on doing it.

        Another twelve years later, I had the chance to expose them again, after the lieutenant manually strangled a K9 to unconsciousness.

        By this time, if they had ever been telling the truth, it would have now been “over for 48 years” since they stopped doing it.

        And then I dedicated myself to researching this subject, and investigating what other departments were doing, and the bottom line is that, at the very least, the vast majority are still doing it and still lying about it. I’ve become very fine-tuned at reading between the lines of their denials. And when one is caught on tape, they generally switch to justifications (“you don’t know what it takes to ‘train’ a K9). The peer pressure of the code of silence is immense.

        In addition to the media, local veterinarians have helped with the coverups. Some even helped with promoting the K9 programs, when I knew that they knew what was really happening.

        And, let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there are a smattering of departments who reject the military-style “training” rule. They would have to know what fellow officers in other departments are doing. They attend K9 performance events with them, and police are not reticent about performing their “corrections” in front of their peers.

        It may well be that some of them are trying to speak out, but I can attest from experience how difficult the departments, and their vets, and the media, and even the public (as demonstrated by your reply) are making it for them.

        Another way the media helps this continue is, when someone shares a video online, and it gains some traction, the media will pick it up and present it as a “rogue handler,” and perhaps an irresponsible department, throwing the focus OFF of the fact that this is STANDARD. So, they keep furthering the same lie I was originally told 30 years ago, that it is the “exception to the rule.”
        It is ‘military style’ “training” and it is THE RULE, not “the exception to the rule.”

    • Laura says:

      People prefer believing lies, it seems. Happy feel-good stuff is associated with our “heroes in uniform”…never mind what goes on behind the scenes, and how this puppy very likely died from the brutal abuse during “training.”

      • Barkley's Mom says:

        Never once have I said there are NO bad police dog handlers, I have seen the incidents that you have posted and I do NOT condone those actions or the stupid idiots that leave their dogs in the police car to die of the heat. as I happen to know there are BAD handlers, just like there are bad dog owners in every walk of life. I just no NOT subscribe to Sue’s contention that ALL Police and Military dog handlers ARE bad! I happen to know both police and military dog handlers that the dogs are part of their families and there is NO hanging and slamming them into the ground to train them. Police dogs that are trained that way would NEVER be able to be around children and many go to schools for teaching safety! You and Sue have a vendetta against police and military dogs and until I see where this puppy has been treated as such I will feel bad for the trainer and police department that lost this precious little soul! You are as bad as the pit bull haters, because some do it they ALL do it, I’m sorry there is NO proof that this is the universal way to train dogs, and I don’t for one minute believe your universal conspiracy theory.

      • Laura says:

        You replied to the wrong comment, BM, but so be it. As usual, you only did more of the same, obviously (deliberately) not comprehending what I or Sue said. I’ve nothing more to say to you, but just hope that others will read my and Sue’s comments and realize there is something terribly wrong with police K9 training and that more people will fight to expose it and for it to end.

    • Nancy Raymond says:

      Despicable! I have heard vague rumors like this before but your post is the first from someone who knows what these K9 dogs go through – I am livid to hear what these poor animals are subjected to – and don’t understand what the point is – I will look up K9 Torture – Thank you for the eye opener.

  4. Melissa Gurley says:

    After reading the comments I don’t know what to believe are these police dogs really abused if they are this needs to be stopped he was only a baby so sad


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