By The Associated Press
BERLIN — Police dogs in the western city of Duesseldorf will no longer get their feet dirty when on patrol -- the entire dog unit will soon be equipped with blue plastic fiber shoes, a police spokesman said Monday.
''All 20 of our police dogs -- German and Belgian shepherds -- are currently being trained to walk in these shoes,'' Andre Hartwich said. ''I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it.''
The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town -- famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers -- the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.
''Even the street-cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobble stones,'' Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.
The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.
''Now we just have to teach the dogs how to tie their shoes,'' he joked.
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