Belgian Malinois – San Francisco Airport Police Dog

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I had the privilege of watching Officer Jeffrey Brown and his canine partner Chico working the airport.  The handsome pair made quite an impression on passengers as they headed to and from flights.  This team navigated the crowded terminal with ease.  Officer Brown examined the people while Chico kept his nose busy searching for explosives.  Many passengers paused to look and some even tried to pet Chico.  I imagine most had not seen a Belgian Malinois before.  They are an impressive breed! 

Belgian Malinois are known for their energy, intelligence and strength.  According to Officer Brown, they need a purpose in life.  This echoes my experience in the clinic.  These dogs do best with experienced owners who keep them busy from sun up to sun down.  They are not couch potatoes!  

Officer Brown did an excellent job of protecting Chico and the passengers from each other.  You see, petting a highly trained, on duty police dog is not wise.  As Officer Brown suggested to several of us gathered around it is best to admire police dogs from a safe distance.  The other benefit of this is to protect the dog.  Many airport dogs, particularly small breeds like the beagles used by our Department of Agriculture, tend to get their tails stepped on.  This can lead to a bad outcome for both the dog and the offending human.  With a large breed like a Belgian Malinois it is an even more serious matter. 

“While it is very tempting to want to pet or say hello to the canine . . ,” Officer Brown explained.  “. . it’s never a good idea for a police or military dog.”  It is also unwise to get down in front of the dog or stare directly into their eyes.  Dogs interpret these gestures as aggressive and dominant behaviors.  They might respond with a warning growl or simply skip that step and attack.  

A great way to support canine units is by voicing support to your local law enforcement agency, city council or board of supervisors.  Since the majority of airport dogs are from the Transportation Security Administration/Department of Homeland Security, you may also want to contact your Senator or Congressional representative.  Tell them about the positive experience you had with the Officers and their dogs.  Let them know how much you value the protection these brave teams provide.     

Thanks to Officer Jeffrey Brown, Chico and all the men, women and canines of the San Francisco Police Department for the great work you do in keeping that wonderful city by the bay safe and special!  Your service is most appreciated.


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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