K9 Yoda Brings Two-Week Manhunt to a Quick Close

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Photo Credit: Robert Enriquez/Shutterstock.com

For almost two weeks, escaped killer Danilo Cavalcante eluded authorities as he hid in a densely wooded area in Pennsylvania. Once his general location was established through high-tech thermal imaging, it took K9 hero Yoda, just minutes to bring a non-lethal end to the exhaustive search for the armed convict.

Trained to track, chase down, then bite and hold, this Detroit-based, four-year-old Belgian Malinois is a valued member of the US Border Control. And while you may think most dogs would be quite capable of barking and alerting to a stranger on their home turf, there’s a lot more to this highly specialized K9 tracking agent.

Let’s start with the physique of a Mal. While he may look similar to a German Shepherd dog, a Belgian Malinois is smaller and lighter. That’s what makes him ideal for search and rescue missions where agility is crucial. He’s also the dog of choice for parachuting troops who can simply strap their K9 partner onto them before making that big jump. I mean, strapping on a heavier, bulkier dog just before stepping into open air could make for a seriously awkward landing, right?

Then there’s this breed’s confident, eager temperament. Not all breeds possess the intelligence, focus, and tenacity needed to track down missing persons (or convicts determined to cover their tracks). Given the distractions that come with the great outdoors - including different sights, smells and all that wildlife - you need a dog that will stay focused and ready to respond to your commands. Versus heading off in hot pursuit of a squirrel. Hmm… still thinking your dog has the right stuff?

Per the guru of all things “dog” the American Kennel Association (AKA) describes the Belgian Malinois as versatile and a world-class worker who forges an unbreakable bond with his human partner. In fact, most handlers take their K9 partner home with them each night. Mornings start just like any other pet household, except in this instance the dog heads to work with their human.

Now, these hard-working dogs do eventually tire out and are often ready to retire around the seven to 10-year age range. Some even sooner due to the high-stress environment they function in on a daily basis. So, what happens with this highly tuned canine who isn’t used to the off-duty life? Often, they are adopted by their handler who has built a tight relationship with the dog. But when that can’t happen, there are organizations that place these big brave boys in a loving family that has been fully vetted to ensure they know how to live with a pooch that is always on high alert.

As for Yoda? Let’s hope he received the praise (and treats) he so rightly deserved!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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