The Muskingum County and Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office both retired one of their K-9’s this year and on Wednesday, they each added a new German Shepherd to the department.
"We try and keep one on every shift," said Muskingum County Sheriff, Matt Lutz. "We’ve been doing that for the last several years and since we had one retired, it’s time to get a new one."
With the increase in drug flow between the two counties, they’re both looking for a second K-9 to add to their narcotics unit.
"Not only the presence of a K-9 at a scene will help secure that scene, but then to add in the drug sniffing part of it really to allow our officers to detect those drugs," said Sheriff Lutz. "Not only to mention, the young children that run away that these dogs can track. Or the suspects that commit crimes that run away and take off that these dogs can track."
Barry Connell, the trainer and owner of Ohio Working Dogs, says a well rounded dog that works well in the public and on duty is what they look for.
"Contrary to popular belief, we don’t want dogs that are super aggressive, we want dogs that have a lot of hunt drive, a lot of retrieve drive," said Connell. "They’re primary mission is to track and find narcotics."
There were six dogs to choose from, all of which were German Shepherds that came from Holland where they’re bred and trained at 8-weeks-old to become police dogs. Each dog went through separate drills so the handler’s could see how they reacted with other dogs, if they listened and how sociable they were.
"We want to test them on stairways. We want to make sure they’re willing to go anywhere we ask them to go," said Connell. "So we ask them to go up the stairway, fetch a ball at the top. Then we throw it into the truck. We want to make sure they jump up into the bed of the truck and then we throw it out into the field because we want to make sure that the dog will search for it."
Another thing they look for is how the dog reacts to the handler, where they will spend the next 12 or so years living and working with every day.
"We’ve talked to the handlers, we’ve looked at their home situation because the dogs do live at the home with the officers, so we want to make sure it’s a good fit first and foremost with the officer and their family," said Connell. "And that it’ll fit the department’s needs."
Both Sheriff Lutz and Sheriff McCauley said it was a hard choice, but Arko, an 18-month-old German Shepherd is now a part of the Muskingum County Narcotics Unit and Sigann will go to Guernsey County’s unit. Starting August 19, the two dogs will go through an intensive 5 weeks of training before they’re first day at work.