Help Your Working Dog Succeed with tips from DCAS!

Working with Working DogsA message from our Veterinarian Administrator

Ever since people and dogs first started living together, we've realized how helpful they can be. From keeping a herd of sheep together to chasing rats away, working dogs have skills to help their humans with certain tasks. In more recent years, many working breed dogs can be found on our couches as opposed to out in the field, but many professions still use the special abilities only a canine coworker can bring. Xena, a Labrador Retriever in Sheriff Mendrick's K9 Unit, works and lives with her handler Deputy Aaron Davis. Deputy Davis and his canine partner work a forty hour week and are also on call for emergencies. 

Xena has been trained in tracking down drugs and recently uncovered eleven pounds of marijuana being transported illegally. In addition to tracking other illegal drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl, she can also track skeletal remains. Xena once alerted her handler while on a boat where divers then found remains twenty feet below the surface of the Chicago River! When Xena successfully finds remains or illegal substances, she's rewarded with her favorite purple squeaky toy. 

Xena on Boat

In addition to Xena, the County’s K9 unit "employs" other dogs for their special talents. From a bloodhound's amazing sense of smell to a shepherd's agility, these dogs are specially chosen for their ability to assist law enforcement and the community. Their amazing abilities are the result of selective breeding over hundreds of years, leading to highly intelligent dogs with non-stop energy and truly amazing skills. 

At DCAS, we assist in the medical and surgical needs of the K9 Unit and see up close how fortunate our community is to have such incredible talent. At DCAS, also see working breed dogs surrendered because families are overwhelmed by these dogs' high energy and work drive. Working breed dogs can be fabulous pets in families that understand everyone deserves to feel useful and get the satisfaction of a job well done. While not every dog will be a Xena, there are many opportunities to exercise a dog’s natural talents and instincts. Continue reading or click Xena’s picture for tips to living with your working dog to give them a well-rounded and happy life.

Dr. Hanek Signature

Dr. Barbara Hanek,

Veterinarian Administrator

5 tips for working dog success

Working Dogs Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Olivia and Boomer, 2 adoptable dogs

Meet Boomer and Olivia, two working dogs who have discovered the joy of teamwork. These pups are bonded and will need a home together. Boomer (75 lbs) is an Australian Shepherd, known for their intelligence and work drive. He's earned a "Novice Trick Dog" title by learning 15 tricks! Olivia (8.5 lbs) is a chihuahua mix and her primary job seems to be Boomer's emotional support animal, but she loves learning new things and hanging out with the volunteers. Olivia can be a little wary of strangers, but once she warms up to you, watch out for allllllllll the cuddles! 

Click their picture to see our volunteers give these working dogs some training tasks!  

Working like a Dog - For the Dogs

Duayne stuffing adoption packets

From an early age, Duayne was meant to help dogs. His grandmother misread his birth announcement as "Doggone" and we can't think of a better nickname for the best doggone general office volunteer at DCAS. 

With a yellow lab at home, Duayne is no stranger to working with animals. But here at the shelter, he spends his free time prepping behind the scenes: medical supplies, enrichment, toys, and adoption packets. "People always want to play with the dogs and cats," Duayne said, "But there's so much more that can be done to support the shelter and the animals." 

Besides office work, volunteers can help homeless animals by working at events to educate our community, provide cleaning services, and process adoption paperwork. To learn more about what you can do to help support our animals, click on Duayne's picture. 

Pet First Aid/CPR Certification is BACK

Pet First Aid & CPR Certification Workshop

$100 per participant.

Certification is valid 2 years.

Follow the link below to register. Slots are available first come, first served. 

This course teaches first aid techniques to address the most common emergencies that can occur with small and large dogs as well as cats. This course will train you to notice abnormalities and detect early warning signs in pets. You will also learn essential pre-vet care and life saving techniques for those times when immediate action can make all the difference.

August 20, 2022 9am-3pm

Upcoming Webinars

Cat at computer

Join us at 7pm select Thursday nights all year long! Follow the links provided to register. 

Fostering Success – August 4, 2022 7pm-8pm

Fostering an animal is very rewarding. It can also be tough. Get advice on how to set your foster animal up for success. Learn about decompression, common stress signs, and how to introduce the new animal into your home.

Registration Link: 


Wags to Whiskers: Animal Communication – August 18, 2022 7pm-8pm

Uncover the unspoken language of your pets by learning how to interpret animal body language and get some tips for effective communication.

Registration Link:


Pet Training 101 – September 1, 2022 7pm-8pm

From basic manners to advanced tricks, we’ll share some tips to help unlock your pet’s potential.

Registration Link: