AP NEWS

Meet Hurricane’s newest K-9 unit

December 26, 2018 GMT

HURRICANE — It is no secret that K-9 units are tremendously important for police work. For one, the dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times stronger than that of humans. This, among other abilities, makes the four-legged partners indispensable for search and rescue, as well as drug and explosives detection. They also aid greatly in criminal apprehension and personal protection.

But K-9 Units are considerably expensive, and not every police department has the ability to afford it. Thus, they rely heavily on state grants and donations from businesses, organizations and individuals.

A few months back the Hurricane Police Department had hosted a T-shirt fundraiser called “Paws for Laws” to assist in acquiring two new dogs for their K-9 Division.

“The response was huge,” commented officer Josh Lucas, who is a handler for one of the new dogs. “We were amazed at the amount of support

we received (from the community).”

The primary expenses, aside from purchasing the dog itself, include training, installing and maintaining the special equipment in the police vehicle and at the home of a handler, and medical costs.

The two young Belgian Malinois males, “Shade” (16 months old) and “Ghost” (14 months), are currently being actively prepared for duty. The dogs’ trainer is Timothy Jarrell, who is a police officer and a K-9 handler himself, and has been training police dogs for over 15 years. During the interview he explained why specific breeds are great for police work. “The dog must possess certain traits,” Jarell said about the selection process for the job. There are different types of work that a dog may be used for, and some breeds are better than others for each job (for instance, bloodhounds are excellent trackers).

“But overall, a Belgian Malinois is the best for most tasks,” Jarell said. “They are highly motivated and extremely hard-working...and that’s very important.”

Belgian Malinois are also known for their keen intellect. They are alert to their surroundings and quick to react to situations. They are extremely loyal to their handler and have strong protection instincts.

Before the dogs are ready for the job they must undergo over 600 hours of training, which includes obedience, detecting drugs, bite work, building search, criminal apprehension and other important skills.

When it comes to police dogs and their handlers, it is a very special kind of relationship. The animal has to be treated much differently than a pet. A strong bond is established, and the dog goes everywhere with its handler. Typically they do not live inside the house, but in an all-season kennel enclosure, and must have minimal interaction with other members of the handler’s household. On occasion, they do get to socialize with other dogs, but, ironically, the purpose of doing so is to teach them to ignore other dogs and keep focus.

The HPD’s new dogs’ handlers are officers T. Barker and J. Lucas. It is the first time handling the K-9 dogs for both of them, and they are both tackling the challenge with enthusiasm.

The police dog training is provided by the ALL IN K9 Services LLC, which also offers regular dog obedience and personal protection training. To contact them, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/allink9services.

For questions and sponsorship inquiries, contact Hurricane Police Department at 304-562-9911.