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Who Is K9 Arlo?

Who Is K9 Arlo?

Dogs play a special role in keeping our communities safe. Using their sense of smell and intelligence, police departments and the military rely on canines. K9 Arlo is a famous name among the dogs that help bring criminals to justice. 

Keep reading to learn who K9 Arlo is and take a closer look at what K9 units do. Let’s get to it!

Who Are the Famous K9 Arlos?

When you do an online search for K9 Arlo, you’ll find incredible dogs. But two stand out, Garfield Heights Police K9 Arlo and Thurston County Sheriff’s Department K9 Arlo.

Garfield Heights Police K9 Arlo served the community in Ohio from December 14, 2012 until his retirement on February 11, 2022, and has since passed away. Trained in patrol and narcotics, the German Shepherd worked alongside his human partner and handler, Deputy Chief Dale Merchant. 

Thurston County Sheriff’s Department’s, in Washington state, K9 Arlo is a TikTok star. Also a German Shepherd, he retired after recovering from surgery for gunshot wounds. Now in the full-time care of his handler, who has also left the department, he’s living his best life.

K9 Arlo
K9 unit dogs are used for patrol and detection.

What Are K9 Units Used For?

A K9 unit includes specially trained law enforcement officers and service dogs. The officers double as dog handlers. They train their canine partners and care for them at work and home.

Dogs in the K9 unit are mostly used for patrol and detection. Patrol dogs provide officer protection, suspect apprehension, area or building clearance, and security. Detection means a dog finds either narcotics or explosives.

The canines are either “single purpose” or a “dual purpose”. Single-purpose dogs will only do patrol or detection, not both. In contrast, dual-purpose dogs train to perform both duties. The canines typically serve for six to nine years in a K9 unit.

What Kind of Dog Qualifies for a K9 Unit?

The most common breeds of dogs that qualify for K9 units are German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. However, other breeds may fit the bill, specifically those known for tracking, trailing, and detecting items.

The dogs first need to pass obedience training and respond to commands seamlessly. Then, the handler takes them through intense K9 training. Since they were puppies, handlers train the dogs to bite fabric and then they advance to “bite suits”. And the handlers get together on a regular basis to continue training. They mirror real-life applications to train the dogs.

Ever wonder? With all that bite training, what if a dog breaks a tooth? Find out here.

What Is Garfield Heights K9 Arlo Known For?

The Garfield Heights K9 Arlo was a “dual purpose” dog that did patrol and narcotics. He served his Ohio community proudly for nine years. 

The Famous Swearing-In Photo

K9 Arlo from Garfield Heights became famous from photos taken at his swearing-in ceremony.  The photograph of him placing a paw on a Bible is also on the cover of a book called K9s in the Courtroom. He and his handler used his celebrity to visit schools and other events in the community to help promote safety and kindness. 

Responsible for Over 100 Arrests

K9 Arlo and his partner, Deputy Chief Merchant, were responsible for over 100 arrests involving tracking, building searches, narcotics detection, and evidence recovery. Like so many other K9s, Arlo protected his partner and served the community with pride. Canines often de-escalate a criminal merely by their presence, which can save their human partner’s life in some situations.

What Is Thurston County Sherriff’s Department K9 Arlo Known For?

K9 Arlo from Thurston County Sherriff’s Department in Washington is a social media sensation. And he suffered gun shot wounds in the line of duty, and his recovery videos went viral. 

Social Media Sensation

K9 Arlo’s handler, Tyler Turpin, made him a TikTok star (@K9Arlo), and he has a substantial Instagram following as well. He became a social media sensation when they were still working for the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. And Tyler has continued the accounts through Arlo’s retirement. With over 3.5 million TikTok followers, his audience loves him.


Do you want Insta-worthy photos of your dog? Learn our tips and tricks for elevating your dog posing skills!

Shot in Line of Duty

K9 Arlo was shot in the line of duty in January 2021. After a high-speed chase, law enforcement opened fire on a perpetrator with a gun. Arlo ended up caught in the crossfire and was shot twice by police. Miraculously, he underwent surgery and survived. 

Successfully Fund-Raising Medical Bills

The Thurston County Deputy Sheriff Foundation raised $73,705 for Arlo’s medical bills through GoFundMe. Direct donations fund the K9 unit program. But the Sheriff’s office pays for medical insurance for the dogs. So, to offset expenses they raised additional money, given the magnitude of care needed.

What Happens to K9 Dogs When They Retire?

When K9 unit dogs retire, they’re usually adopted by their handler. This was the case for both K9 Arlos. If the handler can’t take in the dog for some reason, the canine is adopted into another home.

However, most retired K9 dogs were euthanized before 2000. President Bill Clinton stopped the practice by signing Robby’s Law, which allows police and military dogs to be adopted by their handlers or other service members.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Border Collies can be service dogs? Learn more here.

K9 unit dog sniffing luggage at airport
K9 unit dogs put their lives on the line and work hard.

What Happened to the K9 Arlos?

K9 Arlo of Thurston County Sheriff’s Department is still enjoying life with his handler as of February 2023. However, Garfield Heights’ Arlo passed away shortly after his retirement. He died on April 20, 2022. His handler, Deputy Chief Merchant, said that Arlo was declining in health early that year, which led to his retirement. 

What Is Thurston K9 Arlo’s Handler Doing Now?

Thurston County’s K9 Arlo’s handler, Tyler, continues to grow his social media presence. He’s also a K9s of Valor Ambassador, a non-profit that supports K9 officers. 

Tyler also left his position at the department due to an investigation. His social media fundraising for the medical bills became suspicious. The claims suggest he misled the department on where the money went and whether he potentially profited from it. Tyler denied the claims.

Remembering K9 Arlo and Other Dogs Who’ve Served 

Dogs like K9 Arlo are essential to keeping a community safe. If you see a police officer serving with their K9, take a minute to thank them for all they do. The dogs put their lives on the line and work hard. Just don’t try to pet them without permission.

Does your local law enforcement have a K9 unit?

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