SO gets new dogs

Published 3:36 pm Thursday, June 19, 2008

The addition of more officers into a law enforcement unit could be considered a large asset, especially when there were only two to begin with.

Recently the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department received three new dogs to add to the two already in their K-9 unit. One of the dogs was donated from a lady in Florida, while the other two pups came from a military facility in Texas.

Two of the dogs, a Belgian Malinois and a German Shepherd, still need to attend training at Legends K-9 located in Forrest County, said K-9 Supervisor Lt. George Dominguez. Pasje, the Belgian Malinois, is about 18 months old while Nix, the German Shepherd, is a little over two years old. Both came from an airforce base in Texas where they were discharged due to the military installation’s strict regulations on K-9 behavior. Dominguez said the military base looks for dogs with a passive disposition, however K-9 work with the Sheriff’s Department has less stringent stipulations.

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“We don’t care if you’re passive or aggressive, as long was you alert to narcotics,” Dominguez said.

Passive behavior would entail a dog sitting when contraband is found while aggressive behavior involves the dog scratching at the site of the contraband, Dominguez said.

Typically dogs suited for such work would cost anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000, but the Sheriff’s Department was able to secure the dogs for only travel expenses, between $500 and $600, Sheriff David Allison said.

A Bloodhound was also donated by a lady in Pensacola Fla., Debbie Vann, Allison said. The hound dog, Bart, has already been through his training, with emphasis on tracking.

These three new additions will team up with two K-9s who were previously in the department, Bartja, a Belgian Malinois, and Scoob, a Labrador.

Once all the dogs and handlers have conducted their three week training they will be out in the county conducting narcotics sniffs, criminal apprehension, and tracking. Dominguez said one dog stands above the rest in the tracking department.

“I’ve run tracking dogs before and Bart’s good at what he does,” Dominguez said.

Currently there are no bomb sniffing dogs at the department but they are looking at taking in another dog who may fill that gap, depending on the need, Dominguez said.

Not only will the dogs be able to sniff out narcotics and suspects, they can also be used for rescue operations. Dominguez said their tracking skills would come in useful during missing persons cases, such as a missing child or elderly person. The dogs will also be used for jail searches, Allison said. Every two weeks the handlers and dogs participate in training at the Sheriff’s Department to hone their skills. Using buses, old cars and even a house tracking and narcotics situations are staged for the dogs and handlers to run through. Since Dominguez joined the department in 2006, when the department’s K-9 unit was formed, they have found untold amounts of narcotics, such as marijuana and cocaine, and about $2 million in suspected drug money. Thanks to the keen noses of the K-9s contraband has been recovered from engines, speaker boxes and semi truck trailers.