K-9 Hansel shows what pit bulls can achieve
Congratulations to Millville’s hometown hero canine Hansel! K-9 Hansel was recently awarded an American Humane Hero Dog Award, he is the 2021 Law Enforcement and Detection Hero Dog of the Year! Hansel is an Accelerant Detection K-9 for the Millville Fire Department. He has overcome great obstacles to become the first ignitable liquid detection pit bull in the United States!
When Hansel was born, he lived in Canada and was born into every pit bull’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, at 7-weeks-old Hansel was seized and rescued from an alleged dog fighting ring. Unfortunately though, the province in which Hansel was rescued, Ontario, prohibits pit bulls from being kept as pets. Discriminatory and unfair laws like these result in 100s of dogs being euthanized for no good reason, but Hansel was lucky when a rescue organization fought for two years to save him. His life was spared, but he was banished from Ontario.
From there, he went to an amazing organization in Florida, Dogs Playing for Life. The team at South Jersey Regional Animal shelter has received training from the experts at Dogs Playing for Life; they taught us so many important skills about canine interactions and how to make the best of a shelter dogs time in a shelter.
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We know Hansel’s experience with them was life-changing. Hansel’s friends at Dog’s Playing for Life found an opportunity for him to come to Philadelphia, where he joined the Throw Away Dogs Project, an organization that takes unwanted and untrained dogs who have the potential to be rehabilitated and trains them for jobs with law enforcement. He stayed with them for a year and began training before his next transition that landed him in Millville.
That landing in Millville was thanks to firefighter Tyler Van Leer, who encouraged the fire department to consider hiring a K-9. Van Leer was put in contact with the Throw Away Dogs Project and they immediately knew Hansel was the dog for the job. Van Leer and Hansel went through a 16-week training program with the New Jersey Police Canine Association, where he was trained to detect odors that indicate accelerants. He graduated and immediately began working for the fire department.
It’s not surprising to us that Van Leer and Hansel had an immediate connection. Hundreds of pit bulls come through our doors each year and it’s easy to fall in love, if you don’t let breed stereotypes get in your way.
In addition to his important, trail-blazing work for the fire department, Hansel is also showing our community and the world that pit bulls can do amazing things and are wonderful dogs. Hansel has participated in many community events: he’s friendly, social, and makes friends everywhere he goes.
In our country, pit bulls spend three times as long in shelters than other breeds, and still 50 percent of all pit bulls that enter shelters are euthanized. Pit bulls are also the most abused of all the dog breeds. This is all in spite of pit bulls having an 87.4 percent pass rate on the American Temperament Test, which tests for friendliness, protectiveness, and ability to differentiate between dangerous and safe situations.
America’s beloved Golden Retriever received only an 85.6 percent pass rate. For every horror story you hear about pit bulls, there are 100s of families who will testify to the loving companion their pet pit bull makes.
October is Pit Bull Awareness month and Hansel is the model dog for breaking stereotypes that hold these dogs back from happy endings. Every day he proves that pit bulls, even those born into fighting rings, can be community heroes and perfect pets (when he’s off duty, Hansel lives with the Van Leer family at home).
We hope that when people look at the many adoptable pit bulls waiting at the shelter, maybe they will see a little of Hansel. Maybe they will see him in Blaire, an intelligent pit bull, who is so bored living in a kennel day in and day out. Maybe they will see him when they see Bradley, with his impressive muscles, blocky build and fun-loving personality. Maybe they will see him in Buddy, who is leaning against his kennel gate, whimpering for someone’s attention. There’s a little of Hansel in every pit bull and we want all of them to have their chance to shine.
At SJRAS, we are working hard to give the pit bulls of our community their deserved chance to find a home of their own. In fact, during October all blocky, stocky, pit bull type dogs are 50 percent off their adoption donation at the shelter! Please come in to meet them and head over to K-9 Hansel’s social media to congratulate him on his impressive achievements and award and learn more about his accomplishments.
Shelter events: The shelter will host low-cost vaccine clinics from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 16.
Please make sure that dogs have very secure collars and short leashes; cats must be in a carrier. If you need something to secure your pet, please alert the parking lot attendant when you drive in. We can provide that to you before you take your pet out of the car.
Appointments available, but walk-ins will be welcome. Visit sjras.org to schedule an appointment.
Cost is $20 for each vaccine. Microchips and flea and tick preventative will also be available.
Shelter needs: Dry cat and dog food without dyes, canned cat and kitten food, canned dog food, cat and dog treats, catnip, hot dogs, cheese slices and sticks, cream cheese, dryer sheets, and easter eggs and lacrosse balls for enrichment activities.
Shelter address: 1244 N. Delsea Drive in Vineland.
For information about fostering, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org/volunteer_main/foster.
To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org/forms/adoption-questionnaire.
To volunteer, email the volunteer coordinator at [email protected].
For SJRAS information, call (856) 691-1500 or visit southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org or SJRASVineland on Facebook.
DOGS OF THE WEEK
Moonshine is a pretty, 4-year-old pit bull terrier. She is a sweet girl who can be a bit shy but her personality shines once she lets loose! She is a darling girl that will be totally devoted to her person. Moonshine would do best as your one and only! She has plenty of love to go around!
H.D. is a 1-year-old pit bull terrier. This handsome boy is lively and fun. He will need some work on basic doggy manners like leash walking, but he is young and smart and eager to learn.
Buddy is a bouncy, happy 2-year-old mixed breed, who looks like he might have some lab in his background. He is super friendly and loves toys.
Jake is a great dog! He is a very well-mannered 5-year-old bully breed mix. He is a sweet, happy boy who is friendly and easy going. Come in and meet this handsome boy, he is guaranteed to steal your heart!
Sir is a 10-month-old pit bull terrier with a happy go lucky personality. This young pup is full of energy and loves to play.
Dumbo is a handsome adult pit bull terrier with a gorgeous silver coat. This extra-large fellow weighs 76 pounds. He is friendly and smart and a good match for someone with large dog experience.
Kane is a handsome, 1-year-old pit bull terrier, who is waiting and hoping for a loving forever home. Come in and meet Kane, he may be your perfect match.
CATS OF THE WEEK
Who can resist this boy’s face? Rabbit is ready to move in and steal your heart!
Handsome Dracula wants to be your new best friend.
Smidgen would rather be lounging on your couch than in his litter box.
Raven says, “Look into my eyes, submit an application and I promise you will never be lonely again.”
Tiara is super sweet! She will face bump you and show the belly!
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