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‘They are extraordinary dogs’: Belgian Malinois trainer concerned over spike in demand

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    CAPITAN, NM (KOAT) — The largest Belgian Malinois breeding and training facility in the country is in Capitan, New Mexico. Irene Howcroft has been training dogs for decades. In fact, she is a certified master trainer. She now owns and operates Ruidoso Malinois, where these highly intelligent dogs are trained to be police K-9s, military bomb sniffing dogs, and in some cases, family pets.

“They are extraordinary dogs. They are talented with both nose, courage, ability to bite-and ability to protect,” said Howcroft.

They are also sent all over the world.

“I have been asked to locate gold for the Columbians which I thought was very interesting,” Howcroft said.

She is sending a group this week to Chile to be personal protection dogs and has even sent a Malinois to the sultan of Malaysia.

At Ruidoso Malinois, you can find the dogs training to sniff drugs, bombs, and become personal protectors.

“There’s nothing a Malinois can’t do as long as it’s the right dog for the right task,” Howcroft said.

Belgian Malinois have recently been in the news. Conan the Malinois helped track down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria-Howcroft said her phone has been ringing off the hook.

“People assume ‘Oh, I want a dog like that,’ not realizing how much training goes into those results,” she said.

Sadly, Howcroft said most Belgian Malinois adopted from shelters or from non-reputable breeders will end up back in the shelter, or worse.

“I have seen in shelters up to 40 Malinois per month being euthanized,” she said.

Howcroft sticks to a strict vetting process for anyone wanting to purchase one of her dogs. She never sells them for breeding purposes and will only sell to a family who has the right home, space and is willing to attend a five-day handler session. She also said it is about finding the right dog.

“I’ve been asked many times to please describe the Malinois and my response is, ‘Please describe the human race in one paragraph,’” said Howcroft.

She urges people to stay away from Malinois, unless you find a reputable breeder, and are willing to undertake the responsibility.

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