K-9 Units

MARCUS HAD a pleasant day recently. The four-legged animal affiliated with law enforcement visited the St. Clairsville Creative Learning Center, and the children learned more about the dog’s job.

Accompanying Marcus was Bellaire K-9 Officer Rusty Cunningham. Marcus is one of the K-9s assisting area law enforcement officers in police departments and sheriff’s offices. Years ago, a dog helping officers in Eastern Ohio was unusual, but now they’re hard-working in many departments. Their duties are varied.

Speaking generally, the dogs may perform various important duties such as searching for drugs, helping to rescue missing persons, apprehending suspects and protecting specific persons. There also are dogs to help in finding cadavers and tracing accelerants at suspected fire sites as well as explosives.

Not only are the dogs trained for their work, but the officer handling the dog must undergo training with the dog.

German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Dutch Shepherds are among the canines selected as K-9s.

Just to encounter a dog of that size might serve as a deterrent for those criminally inclined.

Individuals meeting working K-9s on the street shouldn’t be afraid – but neither should a person walk up and try to pet the special dog or any other dog without asking permission. People also are advised not to pet a K-9 or other strange dog atop the head as this is interpreted as a dominance move, according to a training center owner.

Marcus isn’t the only K-9 recently in the news. The other report isn’t a happy one, however, as Kaiser, one of the two K-9 units of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, had to be humanely euthanized because of severe cancer.

Kaiser undoubtedly had some pleasant times as he toured schools in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District with K-9 and DARE officer Joe Kress.

A RECENT study shows the importance of K-9 units. In an article for PennLive, Karen Steinrock reported, “A Lansing, Mich., study proved that a single K-9 team was able to complete building searches seven times faster than a team of four officers. The K-9 teams had a 93 percent success rate while the human team lagged behind at 59 percent.”

FOR TAKING a bite out of crime, the K-9s are man’s best friend.