The dog days of Miami
When the Miami Police Department needed to replace its patrol cars in 1961 — a requirement of its rotation policy — the vehicles were refurbished and presented to officers of the department’s K-9 Corps, the first of its kind in the Sunshine State. The department altered the patrol cars to protect the new law-enforcing canines, according to the August 1961 issue of The American City. While in the car, a dog could rest on a platform surrounded by metal mesh, which shielded the driver from his hound’s playful or instinctual antics and prevented passersby from touching the dog. The vehicles also were equipped with water containers. Miami officers cared for the dogs they worked with in their homes.
Twenty dogs, including Bloodhounds and German Shepherds, handled by 18 officers now comprise the Miami Police Department’s K-9 unit. Each officer and his canine partner undergo 480 hours of training, practicing obedience and a variety of other standards issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Patrol cars are fitted with a cage and cushioned mat, and a special apparatus that directs air to the back of the vehicle also is in place for the dogs’ comfort. The K-9 unit often makes appearances at area schools for special demonstrations.