A Philadelphia Police canine officer named Thor has become a celebrity around the Philadelphia Police Academy kennel.
He's known as PPDK9Thor on Twitter, the department's first social media-saavy canine officer.
The two year-old German Shepherd sneaks away from his kennel to keep his followers informed.
Thor's daily actions are tweeted, we believe, by a human. In less than two weeks, the crime-fighting dog has 56 tweets under his belt and 324 followers.
His first tweet on Oct. 10:
Scooby friendoo! My name is Thor, and my paws are at your service! I work for the PPD and I'm looking for some friends. Where r my dogs at?
— PPD K9 Thor (@PPDK9Thor) October 10, 2013
"We are trying to make inroads with the community and we have officers of all shapes and sizes tweeting for us," said Sgt. Eric Gripp. "Thor came to us and said, 'We're officers too.'"
And that is how the tweeting canine began his foray into social media.
Thor has become a big hit, hashtags and all.
— PPD K9 Thor (@PPDK9Thor) October 21, 2013
@PPDK9Thor Stay Safe out there you are doing a great job for the city.. :-)
— Tara Broadway (@TaraBroadway) October 19, 2013
His human partner, Officer Alvin Outlaw, was transferred to the canine unit in January. Thor and Outlaw have been training together since February.
"I like this aspect of the job from a different angle. On the canine unit, you get a friend. You get a buddy," said Outlaw.
Outlaw is a former high school social studies teacher who turned to a law enforcement career seven years ago. Outlaw spent his tenure in the 22nd district, one of the most violent districts in the city, before coming to the K9 unit.
"I had two choices in life with that last name," said Outlaw with a smile, "To do good or do bad."
He chose good.
The Outlaw family of four have embraced Thor. He settled into their home and they settled on the name Thor after pondering Spartacus and Iron Balls McGinty (a character from the movie "The Jerk").
"Thor eats two times per day and he's a picky eater and needs hypo-allergenic hard dog food," said Outlaw. "It's like having another kid. It's amazing what these dogs can do."
Thor loves to run free, play catch, get his ears and belly rubbed, and his favorite thing is any toy that squeaks.
The sable-colored two year-old came to the Philadelphia Police Department from Holland at a cost of about $6,800. Donors picked up the costs for the pup. There about two dozen dogs in the police department's canine unit.
A canine who makes it through the police training is no slouch. He must complete 560 hours for patrol and 400 hours for narcotics training. The Police Academy offers canine training for dogs outside of the department. Temple, DRPA, SEPTA and others have brought their dogs to be trained there.
The dogs learn obedience commands, tracking and agility. To see the 70 pound dog locate a firearm, psuedo-bite an intruder and jump up a ramp and through a window is amazing to witness.
The canines that go through the Police Academy are able to track a lost child, a suspect and even an Alzheimer's patient. They are trained not to bite at every find. Outlaw describes Thor's tracking capability as that of a serpent.
"You can never take our dog away and use it against us," said Training Officer Janie DiPasquale. "Every cop should have a dog. But, it's a 24/7 responsibility. It's still city property."
When Thor is working he wears a police vest that says Police K9. He is the real deal. A super canine cop, for sure.
When he's not working, he retreats to his crate at home and just "chills."
And then at 4:30 a.m., Thor wakes Outlaw up from his sleep to do it all over again.
Thor is poised to graduate from the academy with a dozen other pooches this December. Woof, woof.