Buster is a retired police dog. On December 10, this handsome eight-year-old German shepherd was surrendered to the Brooklyn facility of the New York City Animal Care and Control. Buster had been with his owner and trainer since he was an 18-month-old pup, and the two served together in the department beginning in 2004. When Buster’s owner retired in 2012 from the New York City Department of Corrections, he decided to take Buster with him, but shortly thereafter plans changed.
Upon retirement, Corrections Officer L. Steven Leath had planned to spend time with family in the Dominican Republic, but Buster was unhappy being left with caretakers, and Leath frequently traveled back and forth while building his new home. And when it was suggested putting Buster back in service in 2012, where Leath’s supervisor promised to personally care for the dog, it seemed a wonderful solution for both an officer and his loyal dog. Leath even received photos of Buster posing with children; all seemed well.
And then Buster’s world crashed down upon him when he was turned into New York City Animal Care and Control and appeared on the “Urgent List.” When the National Pet Rescuer told his story, animal advocates gasped in horror – word of the dog’s plight spread from the mayor’s office to the police precincts to where Buster so loyally served. As the handsome and well trained dog’s story went viral, Leath was shown the article and held his breath as he told his friend, “that’s my dog… that’s Buster. What the h*** is he doing at Animal Control?”
Fortunately Buster’s story was to have a happy ending in multiple ways. Four Paws Sake NYC Animal Rescue had already procured a new home with a retired K-9 handler, plus new protocols are now being instituted for police canines – both active and retired. Best of all, however Buster and Steven have been reunited. “When they brought Buster out from the back of the shelter, he just kind of looked around and then he looked at me. I knelt down and let him smell, and then he knew … within minutes he rested his head on my bent knee and I knew he remembered,” stated Leath.
The two have spent the entire week getting reacquainted; Buster is scheduled for his veterinarian appointment this week, and although quite thin, seems to be slowly adjusting to being back home. And when it’s time to leave for the Dominican Republic, Buster will be by his handler and his best friend’s side.
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