A “throwaway” pit bull has become the newest officer in the Wetumka Police Department.
The dog, called Wildflower, came to Oklahoma via a rescue group that transforms strays into law-enforcement personnel.
She was picked up by the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she was adopted for a short time but returned because she had “too much energy,” says Carol Skaziak, founder of the Throw Away Dogs Project in Pennsylvania.
The nonprofit rescues and trains dogs before donating them to police departments around the country.
“The shelter employees begged me to take her,” says Skaziak, who declined at first.
Six months later, Wildflower still did not have a permanent home and time started ticking for her to be euthanized. The shelter called Skaziak again.
“I agreed this time and she was transported to us by her team,” Skaziak says.
Wildflower came with her name, and Skaziak was skeptical about it. But after the pit bull’s personality bloomed, she knew Wildflower would keep the moniker.
“She is a free spirit … a happy-go-lucky dog,” Skaziak says. “She is a bull in a china shop that doesn’t realize her own strength but does not have a mean bone in her body. She is just like wildflowers; they blow in the wind and wherever they land they grow. This is exactly her.”
Wildflower did not initally respond to training. Skaziak says that when she first introduced Wildflower to her partner and head trainer, Bruce Myers, the dog had a lackluster attitude with none of her usual playfulness and energy.
“She had no hunt drive, no prey drive; she was not even interested in a ball,” Skaziak says. “I was devastated. Bruce said to me, ‘What did you get us into?’ All I was thinking is, ‘We have a pit bull we need to re-home.’”
But luck struck.
“Nothing was working until the day a blue lacrosse ball fell out of the bag she came with,” Skaziak says. “Wildflower targeted that ball and [Bruce] knew at that moment he had his golden training ticket.”
Meanwhile, Wetumka Police Chief Joe Chitwood sought a way to replace his newly retired K-9 officer. With no funds to buy a new dog, he wasn’t sure how he was going to get one.
“It was pure luck that the Throw Away Dogs Project was on my news feed, so I went to their page,” says Chitwood, who filled out an application and eventually received his new partner.
Now Wildflower makes drug busts and has her own social media presence.
“Creating a Facebook page for her was my way of keeping the public updated on Wildflower, on and off the job,” Chitwood says. “It’s my hope to show not only the public, but other law enforcement agencies, that rescues, and more importantly, pit bulls can be used with great success as police working dogs.”