K9s on Washington State ferries: Is it OK to pet a police dog?

Trooper Scott Keffeler is a 17 year veteran of WSP. Trooper Keffeler has been assigned to the Homeland Security Division, Region 3 in Marysville for the past 13 years. Trooper Keffeler’s canine partner is K9  Mia, a Malinois and Shepard mix.

Have you ever seen a state trooper or police officer with a K9 partner and wanted to pet the dog but didn’t know if it was OK to do so?

The Homeland Security Division of the Washington State Patrol, which patrols with K-9s on state ferries, wants to answer that question.

The K-9s, which are used to screen vehicles waiting to board ferries for explosive devices, may be busy doing their job. Riders are asked not to pet or reach out to a working K9 at any time without at first asking for permission from the handler.

Troopers say the K9s have completed more than 400 hours of training and it’s the handler’s job to keep the dog focused on its tasks while working.

Troopers ask that ferry riders help them out by keeping hands, pets and other items inside their vehicles when windows are rolled down so they do not become a distraction for the K9.

WSP says that typically, their K9s are very friendly.  Just be sure to ask before you touch and be sure to let working K9s do their jobs.

If you have a question, WSP says the public is free to approach troopers who are at state ferry terminals or elsewhere or simply say hello.

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