WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. - The Grant County Sheriff's Office in Williamstown, Ky. hosted the North American Police Word Dog Association (NAPWDA) workshops and training for the third year in a row.
The workshop covered obedience, area search, search and rescue, building search, aggression control, problem solving, and narcotics & cadaver detection.
The handlers and the K9s work as a team in what is typically a life and death situation, whether looking for a lost child or bringing a suspect into custody. The certification is required by many states like Ohio and Indiana, however, Kentucky does not require it. Many departments, like Covington and Grant County Sheriff's Office, obtain the certification for court records purposes.
"When [we] use these police working dogs, having a nationally recognized certification such as the NAPWDA it helps you in court testimony," said GCSO Sgt. Brian Maines. "It's recognized by federal courts and most all other courts in all 50 states."
The certification helps in court, whether it is a state requirement or not. That is why police departments from around the region were represented this week.
Typically, German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois are the typical K9 of choice, but not always. Barbara Hayes from the police department at the Kentucky State University brought a Manchester Terrier for testing in the narcotics portion of the event.
"She's unusual because she's a small dog. She weighs about 30 pounds," said Hayes. "If you know how [small] residence halls are, they're small rooms and 'Stella' is much easier to work in a small room and plus, she's not as intimidating to students."
A Covington officer who works undercover brought his English Labrador for narcotics also. "Joey" weighs in at 96 pounds, has a red fox coloring, enormous paws, and an oversized cranium. "Joey" initially was used for hunting, then was tried out as a show dog.
"We bought him from a lady who said when she took him to competitions his head was too big and was losing points," said the officer with a lot of laughter. "So we bought him and trained him for narcotics and he's doing fantastic."
The dogs are focused on the commands that are given by their handler. While the dogs are typically friendly, Major Glenn Jackson who is from a police department in Jeffersonville, Ind. said to always ask the handler, trainer, or owner if you can approach the animal to pet it, for safety reasons.
"I want them to be friendly. These dogs, kids play on them the pet them, they play with them. They're not going to bite," said Jackson. "The dogs are well loved and these guys, this is the best partner in the world."
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