Local News

K-9 Officers Don't Dog It in Competition

Posted October 2, 2007 6:44 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2007 7:05 p.m. EDT

— Dozens of police dogs are chasing top honors – not to mention sniffing and biting their way to the top – in an international competition this week in Fayetteville.

The International Police Work Dog Association 2007 Nationals attracted police dogs from across the U.S., Bermuda, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

"These dogs are critical because they can smell things we can't," said Debbie Monde, of Connecticut Search and Rescue. "If we're looking for someone who's been disappeared for two years, there's nothing left to see visually. So, we depend on a canine's nose to help find the bones."

Monde brought her golden retriever, Hunter, to the competition and a training seminar.

“A dog like this can cover 40 acres in under two hours, whereas you have a line search of hundreds of people going through the woods. So, they save resources,” she said.

Arno Schuurmans, a dog trainer from the Four Winds Police Dog Center in The Netherlands, was decked out in a K-9 bite suit for part of the seminar.

“We train (officers) here – put them in the suit and help them to train the dogs,” Schuurmans said. "I think (K-9 officers are) very important for the police work all over the world."

The Fayetteville Police Department has 12 dogs on duty, and they respond to between 1,300 and 1,500 calls a year, Sgt. Tracy Campbell said.

"If we find one lost child or an Alzheimer's patient or something, that dog has paid for itself," Campbell said, noting the department's dogs have sniffed out more than $10 million in drugs this year.

Law enforcement agencies have been trying to make their dogs more visible in public in recent years, he said.

“After 9/11, there was a call that we need to be more vigilant and let people see the dogs,” he said.