K9s in the Classroom

School Security 2.0

mike ritland with k9 dog in front of large house

With the recent school shooting, many people have reached out to me about the effectiveness of dog’s in schools as a happy medium for security. I view security like cold weather, in that I believe the more layers protecting what you want protected is the best course of action. While there are a multitude of factors and potential solutions that would contribute to helping in the security of our schools, this is but one of the effective layers. While I’m not mentioning firearms in this particular article, I do have very strong opinions as to the validity and importance of maintaining our right to keep and bear arms.

5 years ago I wrote an article called A sensible approach to school security: K9’s in the classroom. With the recent school shooting, I absolutely believe this could be a big part of the solution to in balancing both safety and security.


Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you undoubtedly have been witness to the media coverage of the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month. Since then, there has been an inundation of political mud-slinging regarding gun control, mental health issues, school security, and overall safety of our citizens. I’d like to take a few moments to cover a common sense approach method to safe-guarding our nation’s most prized asset: our children.

As a former Special Operations member, and a staunch supporter of our 2nd amendment, I certainly have very strong opinions as to the validity and importance of maintaining our right to keep and bear arms. That being said, I also realize that firearms in our schools is a hotbed issue that our country seems to be so divided on that it just further complicates being able to have an adult discussion about it.

Due to the disparity of emotional response on both sides as to how to combat this problem, I believe one of the most viable solutions that both mitigates the risk of an active shooter in a school, yet also eases the tension regarding having firearms in schools, is to employ a school security K9.

mike ritland being attacked by protection dog

A school security K9 is an incredible asset to have in a school. It not only acts as a deterrent for would-be shooters, but also, if needed to be called into action, is right there on the premises to help neutralize that threat.

Security K9’s are unlike any other measure in that it is the one tool that cannot be taken from you and used against you. Weapons have the potential of being stolen or lost, they can malfunction, and they can cause more problems if they are in incompetent hands that don’t have adequate training and experience using them. A security dog however, has far less potential of having any of these issues.

Some common questions and concerns I hear people ask are:

A dog is no match for a guy with a gun, it’s a suicide mission
As a nation, we have been effectively utilizing dogs in combat for over a decade recently, and quite frankly since the dawn of man we have used dogs to aid us in combat. In theater, our dogs routinely go up against hardened combat proven fighters and have been largely successful. A troubled and mentally ill citizen pails in comparison to what our military dogs go up against day in and day out, and and of our professional soldiers trust these animals with their lives, we can trust them to protect our children as well.

I don’t want Cujo running around wild with my children
The dogs that operate in a working capacity, whether with a SOF unit or similar to ones that I place in family environments as personal protection dogs, have to be clear headed, stable and very social. These dogs exude confidence, are incredibly intelligent, and know the difference between what is threatening and what is not. These dogs integrate into households with small children, other pets, and busy fast-paced lifestyles that very closely mimic what the environment in a school would provide.

A dog can’t be everywhere at once. How will he cover the whole campus?
There are two points to consider here: 1. Choke points are a security essential regardless of what the other counter measures put in place are. 2. Dogs of this caliber are faster and quieter than any human being on earth, and by a landslide. There is no faster way to close distance around corners, from building to building, and room to room than a highly trained security dog, period. The size of the campus should dictate how many dogs are needed, and it is of course up to the administration to determine its requirements.

School Security K9’s are a non-lethal approach to apprehending criminals, deterring would-be active shooters, and maintaining a safe and secure weapon-free option in our schools.

No measure by itself is fool proof, but again- I encourage you to look at security like cold weather. The more layers you have to protect you, the better off you will be.

School Security K9’s offer the single thickest and safest layer of protection for our children in schools.

With the correct training and placement, I strongly believe that this solution can satisfy both the opponents of having weapons in schools, and adequately mitigate the threat of another school shooter headline that makes all of our stomachs turn.