K-9 Catches Cavalcante: Why Pawrade Works With The Best Belgian Malinois Dog Breeders

10 minute By Peter Corso
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
September 18, 2023

Residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania were thrown into a frenzy on August 31, 2023, when law enforcement announced the escape of convicted killer Danelo Cavalcante. This was not the first time that Cavalcante, 34, fled from a heronious homicide. In 2017, Cavalcante was accused of fatally shooting a man in Brazil and left the country. While many details surrounding his entrance into the United States remain unknown, Cavalcante was able to live under the radar in America with help from his sister Eleni Cavalcante, who now faces deportation after being arrested for her possible assistance in her brother’s evasion of law enforcement.   


Danelo Calvante as seen before, during, and after his attempted escape

Danelo Cavalcante has been described as a "self-taught survivalist" and experienced conman, but his tricks were no match for Yoda, a 4-year-old male Belgian Malinois dog. The K-9 officer was accredited with finding Cavalcante in the dense woodlands of Chester County’s hilly terrain. Finally, on September 13, 2023, Yoda tracked Cavalcante down and led officials to his containment and re-arrest. The 14-day manhunt included the deployment of more than 400 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, dozens of aircraft searches, and multiple sightings of Cavalcante. 

K-9 dog training

Yoda is part of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tactical Unit and has been extensively trained to master his role in the squad. K-9 dog training covers a variety of tasks and skills uniquely reserved for canines. Like with any working dog, learned obedience must be perfected before specific tasks can be taught. Obedience instills crucial traits like responsiveness and control, ensuring the dog can follow commands under high-pressure situations. Without full compliance, K-9 dogs are not able to perform their duties with the necessary precision and trust. 

As the partnership between the handler and K-9 evolves, the transition from obedience to specialized training becomes pivotal. This seamless progression ensures that K-9 units become indispensable assets, enhancing public safety by efficiently handling tasks that humans alone cannot achieve, ultimately exemplifying the remarkable synergy between humans and canines in law enforcement.


K-9 obedience training

Have you ever had to tell your dog "Sit!" multiple times before they decide to listen?  While their stubbornness can be cute at times, K-9 dogs must learn to react immediately after every command. Many commands that you use in your home are similar to the K-9 dog commands, such as sit, stay, place, come, and heel.  Instantaneous responses to these basic dog commands are crucial for the success of K-9 dogs. 

K-9 bite training 

You are probably not reinforcing aggressive dog behaviors with your dog because it is important to train your puppy not to bite. However, police and law enforcement need to encourage a certain level of aggression during K-9 dog training. This is why police forces use dog breeds with prey drives like Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds. Prey drive is defined as a dog's motivation to perform a task involving hunting-related behaviors like sniffing and foraging, chasing and retrieving, and jumping and biting.

Regarding the latter, canine dog training focuses on the dog bite force. For example, in the case of catching Danelo Cavalcante, the primary goal was to apprehend him and avoid lethal force. Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark told the Associated Press that Yoda had initially bitten Cavalcante’s scalp before latching his teeth on the escaped convict’s thigh, “at which time, Cavalcante submitted.” A K-9 police dog must learn to control its bite in order to contain the subject while not causing serious injury. 

K-9 scent detection

A dog's sense of smell is said to be 10,000 times stronger than a human's, so there is no surprise as to why they are useful for police and law enforcement. Their keen olfactory senses have been harnessed to tackle a myriad of challenges, ranging from finding missing persons to thwarting drug trafficking and detecting explosives. Tactical use of K-9 tracking protects men and women officers from dangerous, unknown situations. Since a dog can sense a problem from a distance, they are invaluable in these searches. 


K-9 body detection

One of the most remarkable abilities of K-9s is their capacity to detect the scents of the human body. Search and rescue teams across the globe rely on these four-legged heroes to locate missing individuals in a variety of conditions, including natural disasters and human trafficking. This ability helps to rapidly locate survivors in disaster-stricken areas, ultimately saving lives. Some of the most memorable search and rescue dogs are the dogs of 9/11 and the dogs of Hurricane Katrina.

These highly trained dogs are taught to distinguish between the scent of a living person and that of a deceased individual. Highly trained dogs have been known to track scents of people from fingernails, hair, and clothes. K-9 handlers train their dogs to pick up on chemicals from a dead body, like cadaverine and putrescine, which has coined the term Cavader dogs

K-9 drugs detection

K-9s are extremely important in the fight against drug trafficking and crime. Whether patrolling borders or conducting TSA searches, dogs can identify even the faintest traces of drugs and narcotics. Their ability to detect substances like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana surpasses the capabilities of any technology.

During training, dogs are exposed to different drug odors and rewarded when they identify the correct one. This conditioning creates a strong association in the dog's mind between the smell of a particular drug and the reward, making them proficient at pinpointing illegal substances.

Their effectiveness is not limited to static locations; K-9s can also detect drugs hidden in vehicles, luggage, or even concealed on a person's body. This versatility makes them invaluable assets in the ongoing battle against drug-related crimes.

K-9 explosives detection

In the realm of national security, K-9s are front-line defenders against the threat of explosives. On the battlefield or at airports, these dogs are instrumental in detecting hidden bombs and preventing potential terror attacks. The sheer range of explosive compounds that K-9s can detect is astonishing, from traditional dynamite to the most modern and elusive explosive materials.

The secret behind their success is their rigorous training, which exposes them to a wide array of scents. This training helps K-9s identify the unique odors associated with different explosives, allowing them to alert their handlers when they detect a potential threat. In places like airports, their presence provides an extra layer of security, reassuring travelers and ensuring their safety.

Pawrade Belgian Malinois breeders

In honor of the breed, Pawrade reached out to two of its finest Belgian Malinois breeders who offered a breadth of knowledge about the intelligence, loyalty, and adaptability of Belgian Malinois dogs. If you are interested in learning more about Belgian Malinois puppies for sale, keep reading!

Chad and Becky are long-time lovers and breeders of Belgian Malinois dogs. They continually spread their admiration of the breed, exemplified in 2023 by their willingness to donate 6 Belgian Malinois puppies to families of current and former police officers. 

“When you have a whole litter of Belgian Malinois, you have to distinguish the drives of each puppy. Some are more suited for work duties and some are more fit for family lifestyle,” said Chad. Becky added, “A lot of police officers have different things they are looking for. [Belgian Malinois] are versatile in what they can do.”

Chad and Becky own a 3-acre property that exists as a slice of paradise for their Belgian Malinois dogs. Their land has beautiful trails, clean ponds, and rural grasslands for their breeding dogs and puppies to reign and roam. When asked if Belgian Malinois dogs are best suited for rural living, they both chuckled and shook their heads. "It's all about your lifestyle," they said together. Being active and providing Belgian Malinois dogs with puzzle feeders help them burn a lot of brainpower, which is just as important as physical exercise. 

Keeping all pet-seekers in mind, early socialization is at the forefront of Chad and Becky's breeding style. Their puppies learn early on that “the home is the place to protect, but when you’re out and about, they’re friendly and happy to be around people.” 

Pawrade also spoke with Belgian Malinois breeders Barbara and Gerald. They came upon the inspiring Belgian Malinois breed through their extensive participation in dog training, dog competitions, and pet advocacy programs. Their admiration of Belgian Malinois quickly transpired into their ownership of Roxy, a K-9 Front Lines dog.

roxy  2.jpg          roxy 3.jpg          roxy 1.jpg

Roxy the K-9 Front Lines Belgian Malinois Dog

“There is a myth that Belgian Malinois cannot be service dogs because of their high drive," Gerald said. "The things Roxy has learned show Belgian Malinois are more than just a bomb-sniffing, drug-sniffing breed. They have so much more to give. She is trained to wake me up in my sleep apnea episodes. She helps with my PTSD and changes the direction of my thoughts."

Gerald and Barbara met with K-9s on the Front Lines on a weekly basis for over 150 hours of professional training with Roxy. The couple was given essential building blocks to teach and train Roxy and their future litters of Belgian Malinois puppies. Every 2 years, Gerald and Roxy demonstrate their trust in each other to maintain Roxy’s certified status as a K-9 Service Dog. 

Puppy donations to veterans and law enforcement

Breeding Belgian Malinois dogs for both couples has nothing to do with profit. Gerald is a Coast Guard Veteran and current corrections officer, and his wife Barbara is an activist for Missouri Missing. They are dedicated to raising litters of Belgian Malinois to donate to needful veterans and search and rescue teams. Their most memorable success story is helping a veteran on a 5-year waiting list for a therapy dog. After reaching out to multiple veterans organizations, they decided to find the best candidates on their own. As a result, they potentially saved the life of a decorated veteran by providing this person the companionship and support he couldn't wait for.  After all, the number of veteran suicides per day is far too many, and Gerald and Barbara's impact on one life at a time is noteworthy.  

This serves as a good reminder that Pawrade does not work with puppy mills or for-profit breeders. As Gerald stated, “We have to sell puppies so that we can afford to donate puppies to good causes like Veterans Affairs and Missing Missouri.”

Just this year, Gerald and Barbara’s “pick of the litter” was reserved specifically for Missing Missouri because of her perfect temperament. She is scheduled to be trained for scent detection of the human body. Missouri Missing has graciously accepted their puppy donation.

Why are Belgian Malinois dogs the best choice for police dogs and military dogs? 

Chad mentioned how Belgian Malinois dogs are “smaller than German Shepherds, which makes them a little bit faster. They are easier for police to carry them and transport them.” The compact, muscular body of a Belgian Malinois allows them to climb walls, climb fences, jump into vehicles, walk on tight ropes, and stealthily track the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives. The ability of Belgian Malinois to maneuver with the swiftness of snakes, the strength of jaguars, and the quietness of crocodiles make them the ideal dog breed for debilitating criminals. Police dogs and military dogs are not trained to kill;  more importantly,  they learn to locate, restrain, and reduce the threat of a criminal. 

It is intimidating, as it should be, but in a dog's world, it is no different than Border Collie puppies learning to herd or family dogs learning to sit and stay. As Chad put it, "bite work training is not to train dogs to bite and kill, but to learn to control the bite and release the bite upon command." Pawrade's Belgian Malinois breeder, Becky joked, "Truthfully, bite work is like playtime for them.”

Playing hide and seek was all fun and games for Cavalcante until Yoda's nose sniffed him out and jarring jaw apprehended him. Yoda has been rewarded with many news articles and even more treats since! He is a perfect example of why Belgian Malinois are a trustworthy dog breed.


Adopt a Belgian Malinois puppy

The key to being the best owner of a Belgian Malinois puppy is preparing for a dog that is easy to teach, but not always easy to control. They are strong-willed, and at times, too smart for their own good! You must be strong and affirming in your commands. Remember that Belgian Malinois are eager to work and please, so use this to your advantage! Bossing them around with positive reinforcement will keep them motivated to listen and follow.

Depending on genetics, diet, and exercise, Belgian Malinois dogs can grow between 40 and 80 pounds. Most of their weight is muscle; a healthy Belgian Malinois is lean and strong, with a low percentage of body fat. Their athleticism means that they prefer active lifestyles and love the outdoors. Find ways to offer extra mental stimulation for your dog and physical exercise for your dog in order to raise the happiest, healthiest Belgian Malinois. 

If you are seeking a medium-sized or large-sized dog breed that can serve as a protector, a watcher, and a lover, then consider a Belgian Malinois puppy from one of Pawrade's dedicated breeders!


Peter Corso profile picture

Peter Corso

I have worked with Pawrade for 2 years helping families find their perfect furbaby. I have dedicated myself from start to finish, assisting people in finding and adopting their puppy and even delivering the puppy to their door! Check out our videos, blogs, and social media content to see my heart pour out!

All Author Posts