Countys K-9s tracking well in school
With school in full swing across the county, even the dogs are getting into the action.
In fact, Illo and Kai, the Leavenworth County Sheriffs Departments canines, already have graduated from their classes.
Sgt. Brian Holmes, handler of Illo, said hes pleased with the canines performance at the September workshop sponsored by the North American Police Dog Association.
Illo, a 3-year-old Dutch shepherd owned by the county since 1998, and Kai, a 2-year-old Czechoslovakian shepherd purchased last year after the countys other canine, Keesha, was struck by a truck, were certified for narcotics searches and tracking.
In addition, Illo earned certification for article search and building search.
Holmes noted that before being able to participate in the latter classes, the dog had to earn a certificate in obedience.
Article search training is taught so a dog can locate, for instance, an article that is thrown down or dropped by a suspect, of-ten during pursuit.
Its incredible X his sense of smell, he said. Hes trained to locate something that doesnt belong there.
Generally, in an open field there is just the scent of grass, Holmes said.
Hell find the thing that has the human scent on it, he said.
The dog, Holmes said, can completely search a 50-by-50-foot area in fewer than two minutes.
In buildings, Illo is now certified to find people.
Where the dog cant physically get to them, hell stay there and bark to get my attention, Holmes said. Or if he can get to them, hell attempt to apprehend them by locking on to them with his jaws X hell hold the subject until told by the handler to release.
Making Holmes especially proud of Illo is the fact that he is already certified to do more searches than it was thought he would be capable of when the county purchased him.
The last phases of training, which Holmes hopes Illo will complete soon, include aggression training such as apprehending suspects, working when gunfire is sounding and leaving a vehicle to catch a subject.
When not on the job, both Illo and Kai, who live with their handlers, are like ordinary dogs.
Illo plays in the backyard, sleeps and relaxes, Holmes said. But when he goes to work, he goes to work.
Generally, the dogs seem to enjoy the work, Holmes said.
Thats why theyre chosen for the field, because basically they have the drive to do it, he said.
The average cost of a canine dog ranges from $7,500 to $10,000, Holmes said.
Theyre not cheap, he said, adding that the price depends on what searches the agency wants to have the dogs trained for.
In Leavenworth County, the dogs are used at least weekly, when cars are searched for narcotics during traffic stops. The dogs are used countywide, assisting city police departments when needed.
And, when going from town to town, the dogs travel in style X in the countys 2000 Ford Explorers equipped for canine patrol.
Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye said the dogs have worked out well, and recently theyve been used for more than traffic stops.
Weve had two occasions here in the last few weeks working with postal authorities where the dogs sniffed out some packages they had, Nye said.