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K-9 Unit Community Canine Teams

In September of 2018 Vanderbilt University Police Department launched a new canine program to assist in outreach efforts and strengthen bonds with the Vanderbilt community. Community Canine teams will provide comfort and affection to Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Vanderbilt community.  The goal of the VUPD Community canine is to aid in reducing anxieties in a variety of situations such as: exams, stressful workdays, personal crisis, etc. The Community canine also aids in social interactions and positive encounters with law enforcement and the Vanderbilt community.

Community canine teams receive their initial training with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department “Paws and stripes academy”. The “Paws and Stripes” program finds shelter/rescue dogs and pairs the dog up with various county jail inmates. The inmates are tasked with training the dog on advanced obedience skills as well as to monitor, document the dog’s temperament and general demeanor under the supervision and direction of a professional canine trainer.

 The “Paws and Stripes” program is a win/win initiative that frees up kennel space at private and public animal shelters, provides dogs with forever homes, provides a great resource to law enforcement agencies, provides college veterinarian students a strong practical application for their area of study and teaches inmates a skill that can be utilized to decrease recidivism.  

If after approximately eight weeks the canine candidate meets the criteria, then the canine graduates and is paired up with an officer candidate to handle the canine.

The program has been in existence since 2006 and provides many canines to veterans/first responders with disabilities, families that have a child with disabilities, as well as multiple law enforcement agencies utilizing the dogs as child victim advocates and to assist officers with those in crisis. 

Vanderbilt University Police Department community canine teams after graduating the training course with Brevard County Sheriff’s Department receive additional advanced obedience training. The teams then challenge the American Kennel Club for several different certifications related to the AKC  “Canine Good Citizen” program.  The community canine teams also test and receive certification through the nationally recognized Alliance of Therapy Dogs organization.

K-9 Officer Jack and his handler, Sergeant Shaneithia Lewis

Sgt. Lewis and Jack

Click  here  to request an appointment to meet Officer Jack and Sergeant Lewis. 

K-9 Officer Levi and his handler, Sergeant Cheryl Bradley

Sgt. Bradley and Levi

Click  here  to request an appointment to meet Officer Levi and Sergeant Bradley.