08/05/09 — Dogs have to practice, too

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Dogs have to practice, too

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 5, 2009 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Sheriff K-9 Deputy Ryan Sasser, and his dog, a Belgian Malinois named Emmy, train Monday at Spring Banks Stables on N.C. 111 South.

Just as officers do, police dogs need training -- and plenty took place on Monday morning during a routine monthly exercise for the Sheriff's Office K-9 unit.

At Spring Bank Stables, the Sheriff's Office's six canine handlers and their dogs performed tracking and trailing exercises, "aggression control" and narcotics training, Cpl. Jayson Hill said.

Then, after a rigorous morning schedule, the group took on a much lighter task -- greeting a day care class that had come to the stables to ride horses, the corporal said.

"We ended up doing a little demonstration for them, letting the kids pet the dogs and stuff like that," Hill said.

The Sheriff's Office tries to turn in at least 16 hours of police dog training per month, with each animal.

Of the six dogs, five are Belgian Malinois, which serve as multi-purpose "patrol dogs," that can do criminal apprehension, tracking and trailing, narcotics and cadaver searches.

The last remaining dog, a bloodhound named Katie, is a "single-purpose dog," often used for tracking suspects and is not considered dangerous.

Katie is often deployed if an elderly person or child is reported missing because of her gentle demeanor, Hill said.

Another advantage Katie has is endurance -- the Belgian Malinois dogs tend to use up energy quickly, the corporal said.

"The way I explain it is the patrol dogs, they're like Corvettes," Hill said. "They're fast out of the gate, but after a ... little ways, they burn out, because they've expended all their energy.

"Katie (the bloodhound) is like a Cadillac -- she can go for miles and still keep tracking," Hill said. "If we have a big manhunt, or a child is missing, or somebody is lost in the woods, we use her."