This Is Home: Continual training is important for both K9 Handlers and their dogs
Police K9s are important members of every department
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) -
Police K9s are important members of every department.
From keeping people safe to companionship with their handlers, training for these dogs is necessary.
Twice a month… the Mid-Ohio Valley K9 handlers and their dogs travel to Meigs county Ohio to continue improving at their jobs.
Pine Grove Kennels is Owned and operated by Master Trainer and Athens County Deputy, Steve Heater.
Heater buys the dogs, trains them, and then helps match them with an officer.
Once they’re matched the training doesn’t stop there.
Those dogs and their partners come back twice a month to practice skills in searching, apprehension, narcotics, tracking through the woods, agility, and obedience. If you’ve seen an officer out in the field with a K9, you may have noticed the bond and skills possessed by the pair.
The training days allow them to practice the skills needed to better handle situations in the field.
The dogs practice article searches- picking up human scent on the objects.
“If they were to drop a gun or drop a magazine or anything, we use stuff that won’t hurt the dog, so just throw them out into the field,” explained Tony Messer with South Charleston Police Department.
The dogs and their handlers practice narcotic work. To do this, drugs are hidden in a fake house and cars. The handlers and dogs don’t know where they are hidden. It’s up to the handlers to properly guide their dogs through. The dogs should sniff out and find the drugs. They indicate they’ve found something by sitting.
The woods around the training area are used to train tracking suspects through woods. Just like with article searching, the dogs will smell something of the suspect and follow the trail.
Another important skill the trainers and dogs practice is taking suspects into custody.
They go through two scenarios. The first is Reasonable force. That’s when the suspect gives us and the dog needs to stop before biting. The second is biting the suspect until the handler gets there.
Deputy Sheriff Taylor Phillip is with the Wood County Sheriff’s office. Her K9 Drago was at home resting after surgery. Because of this, Phillips spent a lot of time in the bite suit.
Phillip’s said a lot of damage can be caused with a bite from a K9.
“These dogs are trained to bite and hold on to the suspect. So they’re not actually trained to inflict a lot of damage by biting everywhere. They’ll bite and hold on the whole time until we come and get the dog off.”
Master Trainer and Deputy, Steve heater said the training isn’t just for the dogs.
“The officer is the hardest part I guess because the dog is pretty simple. Even the officers when they start are like , ‘oh that looks easy.’ but then it’s really not. You gotta try to learn how to read this dog, and figure out what they’re doing. And as you’ve seen you gotta walk backwards a lot and do all kinds of things. It’s pretty challenging to start off with.”
Chief Scott Miller with the Amesville Police Department agreed with Heater’s assessment saying, “The dog knows all of the commands. The dog knows what he’s supposed to do. So it’s the handler trying to catch up with when to use the proper commands. And just the education of different languages we use to train them with. All of his commands are in German so it takes me a while to learn all of the German words.”
Having a K9 can help save an officers life.
Brandon Hardesty with the Zanesville Police Department described is as always have a partner and always having backup. “I’ve been in numerous fights with people. In which I bailed him out of the car and he’s basically come and helped out.
Heater recounted a time his first K9 partner, Calypso, saved his life. “We had a traffic stop. The guy was way bigger than me. We got into a fight. He basically tried to get my gun from me. We fought for about 15 minutes over my gun. Just back and forth fighting. I finally remembered I was one of the only few around that had a bell out on my car. So I pushed the button and the dog came out of the car, bit him, and got him off of me.”
At the end of the day the dogs are still man’s best friend.
Troy Smith with the City of Zanesville said his K9, Atilla sleeps in bed with him every night, “He’s babied.”
“He goes everywhere with me. I own a few companies so he’s always in my trucks with me. He goes fishing with me. Wherever I go, he goes,” described Chief Miller.
Brandon Hardesty said at home, Dano is just a normal dog. “He’s like a big teddy bear.
By being together 24/7… The connection they need to have to be effective and safe was clear to see.
Chief Miller also said that the Pet land in Athens buys food, toys, beds and even Medical care for the K9 officers through their own fundraisers at the store.
Below are the profiles for some of the Handlers and their dogs.
Chief Scott Miller with the Amesville Police Department and his K9 Officer, Ax.
- Ax is around 7yrs old.
- Chief Miller and Ax have been together around 3 years.
- Ax can apprehend and track, locate and detect narcotics, find missing people, and more.
- Chief Miller said Ax is helpful in building community relations and helping to deescalate situations.
Sergeant Taylor Phillips with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office and her partner K9 Drago.
- Drago was not at the training with Phillips. He was at home resting after a surgery.
- Drago is 7 years old and he helps with drug detection and suspect apprehension.
- If you would like to see and read more of the pair, you can check out another story they were in here.
Brandon Hardesty with Zanesville Police Department and his K9 Dano
- Dano is Hardesty’s first K9.
- Dano is a 5-year old German Shepard.
- The two have been together for three years
- Hardesty described having a K9 as, “just like having another kid. I’ve got two daughters at home and he requires just as much attention as they do, so that’s what I compare it to.”
Kane Bender with the Clarksburg police and his K9 Asta.
- Asta just turned three.
- Bender and Asta have been together for two years.
- Asta is Bender’s first K9.
- She is an all black German shepherd
Tom Heaton with the Hocking County Sheriff’s office with his K9 Zara.
- Heaton started with Zara when she was 6 months old and she just turned 4.
- Zara is a Belgian Malinois
- Zara is certified trained in Narcotics, article tracking and apprehension.
Tony Messer with South Charleston Police Department with his K9 Phine.
- Messer and Phine have been together one year.
- Phine is two years old.
- Messer described Phine as dual purpose: Narcotics, Tracking, and Apprehension.
Troy Smith with the City of Nelsonville and his K9 Attila.
- Atilla was born in may this year, so about 3-4 months old.
- Right now she certified in article searches, tracking, and narcotics.
Sergeant Laura McGlone with Clarksburg Police Department and her K9Ion
- Ion is three years old and from Croatia
- This time two years ago McGlone and Ion were in training, so they’ve been together almost exactly two years.
Justin Bailes with the South Charleston Police Department and his K9 Sid
- Sid just turned two.
- Bailes and Sid have been together about a year; they started training last November.
- Certified in article search, narcotics, apprehension, and tracking.
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