published Monday, November 28th, 2011

Dogs are an officer’s best friend

By Kim Sloan/Rome News-Tribune
  • photo
    Jimmy Allred of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office shows off Champ Two.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ROME, Ga. — They are a vital part of Northwest Georgia police departments and sheriff’s offices — catching criminals, finding lost people and finding drugs.

Once they complete their training, they patrol alongside other officers.

But they drink their water out of a bowl, and when it’s time to take a restroom break, well, let’s just say they don’t need a restroom.

These four-legged officers, also known as K-9s, are a vital part of local police departments.

And the dogs are not just hound dogs that can track people — even though they do that well.

All of the dogs are trained to sniff out narcotics, said Richard Penson of the Rome Police Department, who works first shift with his K-9, Diesel.

The dogs also are loaned out to other agencies.

“I’ve been called out by the U.S. Marshals three times already,” Penson said.

On Tuesdays, the officers and their masters meet to train at a course behind the animal shelter.

The dogs also undergo 12 weeks of training.

Earlier this month, the K-9 teams received first-aid kits donated by Redmond Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services. The bags include splinting supplies, scissors, Quick-Clot, bandaging supplies and some commonly needed medications. Each K-9 also received a bag for his “human partners.”

“Although we respect all of our police officers for the protection they so selflessly provide to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is a particular group of very unique four-legged officers in our area,” said Sherry Peace of Redmond EMS.

“Since these brave officers are put in harm’s way so often and are a bit anatomically different than humans, their handlers must go through extensive training to aid them if they are injured. The officers in our surrounding areas have had this training, yet medical supplies are costly.”

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