The Burlington County Animal Shelter has a record of success in finding forever homes for the animals they love and care for, but it is not every day that one of their rescues also lands a job as a bona fide crime-fighter.
Then again Arrow is not your typical rescue dog.
The young Belgian Malinois, who was surrendered to the Burlington County Animal Shelter in February 2020 as a young puppy, made a joyful return to the shelter on Wednesday morning with his new police partner and companion, Lower Southampton Police Officer Kyle Heasley.
The duo came to thank the shelter employees who cared for the young pup and connected him with the Rescue 22 Foundation, an East Greenwich-based animal rescue group that found Arrow his home with the Bucks County police force.
Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell was among the group at the shelter that greeted the new police K9 and his partner.
Arrow was one of more than 1,700 adopted from the shelter last year.
“The employees and volunteers at our shelter are all about creating happy endings for the animals they care for, and this is easily one of their most memorable,” said O’Connell, who serves as the Commissioner liaison to the animal shelter. “Not only has Arrow found a loving home, but he’s also found a wonderful calling as a police officer’s best friend and partner. Kudos to our shelter staff, Rescue 22 and the Lower Southampton Police Department for giving this dog his day.”
Arrow’s journey from shelter pup to police K9 was not occur overnight. Debbie Bucci, an attendant at the shelter, said they attempted to adopt him out to a family, but he was “too much” for the general public to handle.
“He was very very energetic,” Bucci said. “He needed more education; he needed to learn self-control, and so he ended up sitting here for quite some time.”
Bucci said she used social media to ask rescue groups to take and train him. She eventually connected with Angela Connor from Rescue 22, who agreed to come to Burlington County and evaluate the dog for their program.
Rescue 22 specializes in training dogs to become service companions for combat veterans. Though Connor knew that Arrow wouldn’t likely be a good fit as a service animal, she ended up taking him in anyway, believing his intellect and energy might be perfect as a police dog or other working animal. Through her contacts, she was able to match him with Lower Southampton, which was looking for a K9 recruit.
He and Heasley are now undergoing intense training at the Philadelphia Police K-9 Training Academy.
“Arrow is the first police dog we’ve had in the department for about 40 to 50 years. “Everyone in the community is very supportive and happy that we now have a police dog,” said Heasley, adding that the Arrow is also a fulltime family companion.
“Arrow is with me 24/7. We’re best buds; we’re partners; and we do everything together,” the officer said. “He’s a great family dog and he’s great with our other dog too.”
Bucci said she was overjoyed to see Arrow again and hear about his new life. She hopes it inspires others to consider rescuing a dog or cat from the shelter.
“It was very emotional (visit). I’m very proud of him. But there are many more so we just keep going,” she said. “Hopefully, they all have happy endings like Arrow did.”
Lower Southampton Police K9 Arrow received some gifts while visiting his former home at the Burlington County Animal Shelter.
Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell greeted Arrow, Officer Kyle Heasley, Shelter Attendant Debbie Bucci and Rescue 22 Foundation leader Angela Connor.
Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell visited with Arrow, Officer Kyle Heasley and Shelter Attendant Debbie Bucci.
Lower Southampton Police K9 Arrow was surrendered to the Burlington County Animal Shelter in 2020 and was cared for by the shelter staff for several months before being rescued. He’s now being trained for police work.
Arrow and Officer Kyle Heasley are Lower Southampton’s first K9 team in more than 40 years.