For months, a pit bull named Leonard sat in a kennel waiting to be adopted. He was brought to Union County Humane Society in Ohio earlier this year, but even the most optimistic animal lovers knew the prey-driven pit would have a hard time finding a home. They waited and hoped for the best, but Leonard's time was running out.
The problem was that Leonard showed signs of possessiveness and a high prey drive toward small moving objects. He was energetic and friendly, but the combination of those traits often came across as "too much" for potential adopters. He needed the perfect home situation that would be able train him and handle his strong personality.
With each passing day, dogs all around Leonard were picked for adoption and sent home. The staff, and Leonard himself, were starting to lose hope. But then Jim Alloway, the shelter's director, had an important realization. He told WSYX,
"I walked out with a squeegee. He ran up and bit it and then he went running through the yard. I knew it was a special characteristic. He wasn't being aggressive. He wanted to play."
Leonard was extremely motivated to work and play, and all he needed was an outlet for that energy. With extensive experience with police dogs, Alloway knew a potential working K9 when he saw one. The humane society then contacted Storm Dog K-9 Training, and Leonard's life went in a completely different direction.
Instead of waiting for his time to run out at the shelter, Storm Dog K-9 Training enrolled him in their rigorous police dog training program. The lovable pittie worked with experienced trainers and law enforcement to learn how to use his many talents for police work. As Alloway predicted, Leonard excelled in his training.
He is now a fully certified police dog and working with Clay Township Police Chief Terry Mitchel. Leonard has been part of the team for a few years now, and he breaks pit bull stereotypes every day. When his vest goes on, he knows it's time to work.
Leonard has changed the way Clay Township views pit bulls, but that's not all. He's an advocate for pit bulls everywhere, and this month, he attended a rally in Parma, Ohio. The town has a chance to repeal a 30-year ban on pit bulls, and Leonard and his handler, Terry Mitchel, showed their support.
Leonard's life as a police dog is far from his days on death row in an animal shelter. He's proof that all dogs, regardless of breed or background, are capable of great things and worthy of second chances.