Fancy footwear for police dogs

February 25, 2008 7:27:49 AM PST

"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. In the city's historical old town in particular - famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers - the dogs often step into broken beer bottles, he said.

"Even the street cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobblestones," 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.