Brad Croft is the operations director for Universal K9 — an organization that trains dogs along with police and SWAT team officers to become successful K-9 Units.
And when he was met a group of abandoned shelter dogs in Kirby, Texas, there was one pup in particular caught that his eye. Croft decided to take her home to San Antonio and see if she could cut it as a police dog.
Kiah was shy, but strong, a pit bull recovering from a massive head injury. Croft was told she was hit by a hammer shortly before she arrived at the shelter.
“From what I saw, I just couldn’t believe that she survived it, but she did,” Croft told CBS News. What impressed him even more was that Kiah didn’t seem to hold a grudge. He called her miraculous.
That said, she wasn’t easy to train. But Croft found her to be a fast learner and after eight weeks’ worth of schooling, Kiah was pronounced ready to work.
“If we were to have some kind of contest, she would outwork [the other dogs] all days of the week,” a confident Croft said. “This dog is crazy good.”
And so when the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department reached out to Croft in hopes of finding the perfect K9 officer, he had Kiah ready for service.
Now, nearly two years later, Kiah works alongside her partner, Officer Justin Bruzgul, as a narcotics and missing persons detection dog.
What’s more, today she’s set to receive the ASPCA Public Service Award in New York City as the first pit bull police dog in the state of New York.
“These awards recognize not just the heroism of particular animals, individuals, and organizations, but the incredible bond between people and their animals,” said ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker in a statement. “That connection between people and pets is so strong that when you commit to helping one, you’re almost certainly helping the other.”
Since rescuing Kiah, Croft, in partnership with the Animal Farm Foundation, a nonprofit that helps rescue and re-home animals, has helped place 20 pit bulls in police departments across the country.
“They’re just good, good dogs. The Achilles heel is the stigma,” Croft said, referencing the misconception that they are naturally aggressive and/or violent.
Croft points to Kaih as a perfect example.
“She’s so friendly, she wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said.