Demand rises for breed of 'hero' dog in al-Baghdadi raid

Posted: Updated:
U.S. Military U.S. Military

The dog that cornered Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid that led to the terrorist's death may be "beautiful" and "talented" -- so said President Donald Trump -- but an expert warns against running to a nearby kennel looking for the new family pet.

"These dogs are too much for most people," Irene Howcroft, owner of Ruidoso Malinois, a kennel in New Mexico that specializes in the Belgian Malinois breed and provides many to law enforcement officials, told ABC News on Thursday.

"But people want the new cool new 'it' dog," she added. "Malinois have become the cool new 'it' dog."

In the four days since Trump announced al-Baghdadi's death, and gave high praise to the dog named "Conan," calls inquiring about the breed have skyrocketed, according to Howcroft.

"I have received about a thousand contacts through email, phone calls, or text," Howcroft said. "I usually get, I would say, about probably 1,500 to 2,000 contacts a month. I'm still getting a lot more."

Yet she thinks the spike in interest could be detrimental to the breed, adding she's "profoundly distressed."

Howcroft has been training Malinois for 15 years and knows the extensive level of care that goes into raising them.

"People think, 'This will be a fun dog to have,' and it will, but only if you are the right family or person," she said.

Malinois require active engagement both physically and mentally, according to the American Kennel Club.

"This is not a dog who can be left in the backyard, and daily walks are not enough, either," according to AKC's website. "Exercise, and plenty of it, preferably side by side with his owner, is paramount to the breed’s happiness."

Howcroft said that the people who have reached out, both interested owners and other breeders, have done little to no research.

"I say, 'Tell me about your fencing. Are there other dogs in the household? What're your training goals for this dog?' Then I can tell very quickly you're not suitable, just with those questions," she said.

She fears that Malinois' newfound popularity will lead to unprepared owners in insufficient homes and a spike in unhealthy breeding to meet demands.

"The well-being of their life, they trust me for that, and I take that extremely seriously," she said.

  • SportsMore>>

  • Ugly brawl breaks out at end of Kansas State-Kansas game

    Ugly brawl breaks out at end of Kansas State-Kansas game

    Third-ranked Kansas and Kansas State ended their bitter showdown Tuesday night with a wild melee behind the basket that included punches, shoving and at least one player picking up a stool, moments after the Jayhawks tried to dribble out the time on their 81-59 victory.

    Third-ranked Kansas and Kansas State ended their bitter showdown Tuesday night with a wild melee behind the basket that included punches, shoving and at least one player picking up a stool, moments after the Jayhawks tried to dribble out the time on their 81-59 victory.

  • From Kansas to the 49ers, Katie Sowers makes NFL history

    From Kansas to the 49ers, Katie Sowers makes NFL history

    Yahoo! SportsYahoo! Sports
    Yahoo! SportsYahoo! Sports

    “I remember we would make boys cry,” San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers said, laughing and adding some of that might have come from their technique: Seize “their shirts, spin them around and throw them down.”

    “I remember we would make boys cry,” San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers said, laughing and adding some of that might have come from their technique: Seize “their shirts, spin them around and throw them down.”

  • Baylor jumps Zags to give AP poll record-tying seventh No. 1

    Baylor jumps Zags to give AP poll record-tying seventh No. 1

    Baylor leaped over Gonzaga and into the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. 

    Baylor leaped over Gonzaga and into the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. 

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE