Shelter dog joins Alexandria Police Department K-9 unit

Zara in training. Photo: WJLA

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - Officer Steven Escobar has been with the Alexandria Police department for more than a decade.

However, his new partner is a rookie.

"Down! Good girl!" said Officer Steven Escobar, as he coaches his partner -- a 3-year old Belgian Malinois.

"She just wants to go, go, go all the time. She never gets enough," said Officer Escobar.

Zara is not your typical police dog.

That's because she started out at an Alexandria shelter, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

Finding a new home was not easy.

"She was surrendered to us at our facility and we quickly realized that she was extremely high energy and was going to need a very special placement," said Megan Webb, Executive Director, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

Not every dog can join the K-9 police ranks.

"She is very headstrong, so when I ask her to do some of the things, she doesn't want to listen all that well. We are working on it. She's come a long way," said Officer Escobar.

Zara made it through 14 weeks of intense training and officially graduated on Wednesday morning.

Even a shelter dog can learn some new tricks.

"She looks like a different dog. She looks extremely happy," said Webb.

Zara is now ready to go out on patrol with Officer Escobar.

"She likes to bark a lot, talk all the time," he said.

Officer Escobar said patience is key but it is worth it because he knows his partner has his back.

"With her by my side, I know she is going to be in the fight with me til the end," said Officer Escobar.

Zara is Officer Escobar's second dog to work with.