This shelter dog came in as an “owner surrender” but is now paying it forward—proving there are second chances in life.
German Shepherd K9 with police officer
Credit: aijohn784 / Getty

It took a special human friend to notice the bravery and talent in Arrow, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois mix, and help him transform from a long-term shelter pup into the furriest new member of a Pennsylvania police force.

Deb Bucci, an animal shelter attendant, saw the potential in Arrow, who had spent nearly eight months at the Burlington County Animal Shelter just east of Philadelphia after his owner surrendered him. Bucci tells the Burlington County Times, "Their brains, especially in the Malinois, are continuous, and when they are locked in the kennel they go crazy." With that in mind, Bucci began working with Arrow "every chance she got."

As she worked with him, the shelter continued their search for Arrow's forever home. Several months passed without any adoption luck—until a last resort social media post was answered last summer. Bucci posted Arrow's story on Facebook and that connected her to Angela Connor, co-founder and CFO of the Rescue 22 Foundation, a nonprofit providing trained service dogs to our country's wounded veterans. 

"I knew that it was very unlikely that Arrow would be a fit for a service dog," Connor tells the newspaper. "I came in and evaluated Arrow and decided that a lot of the behavior that most people would find challenging was actually exactly the behavior we're looking for to develop into police work."

Together, Connor and the Rescue 22 Foundation temporarily adopted Arrow and worked with him for three months until—last September—the Philadelphia Police K-9 Training Unit stepped in and found Arrow a job. Patrolman Kyle Heasley in the Lower Southampton Township Police Department became Arrow's owner, as well as a partner on the force. The two train and work together full time.

"Everybody in the community is very supportive and very happy that we now have a police dog," Heasley tells the Times. "The department's happy, so are all the fellow officers. He's been a great addition to the department."

Arrow getting a Congratulations dog cookie
Credit: Courtesy of Burlington County Public Information Office

On top of Arrow's glowing performance review, he's "just like a family dog when we go home," Heasley says. Arrow is trained as both a patrol dog and drug-scent dog and, according to Heasley, knows when to transition from work mode to home life. Way to handle that work-life balance, Arrow!

The Burlington County Animal Shelter director says they are working to "better assess dogs and their needs" the way Bucci did, spotting Arrow's talent early on. Hopefully that will reduce the number of failed adoptions in the future.

We're so happy Arrow found a forever home and was able to put his energy and intelligence into honorable work—protecting his community. Way to make your fellow bow-wows (especially those shelter pups) proud!