Archive for canine police

Flight becomes first foster unit to military working puppy

Posted in Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , on June 20, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Patrick Desmond
37th Training Wing Public Affairs

6/18/2009 – LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS)  — After three weeks, the newest member of the 37th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Flight knows her way around the three-story building and often bounds through open doors on surprise visits.

Aamee, a four-month old Belgian Malinois, is the first puppy to be fostered by a unit at Lackland through the military working dog foster program.
Sharon Witter and Master Sgt. Don Friemel, both with the 37th Force Support Squadron, go over paperwork while Aamee plays with a tennis ball. The Airman and Family Readiness Flight is fostering Aamee, exposing her to a variety of social settings, and caring for her until she is ready for military working dog training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

The foster program socializes potential working dogs to different people and environments to prepare them for a life of various handlers and locations. Aamee has been with the flight on a pilot test since May 1.

Sharon Witter, Airman and Family Readiness Flight chief, said it provides a different work atmosphere.

“It is a stress reliever, I think, for everybody,” she said. “We definitely have to communicate more. You can’t just leave her alone.”

When broaching the program’s pilot test of unit care, Ms. Witter, a dog lover with two of her own, admitted she likes to do things a little differently and jumped at the chance to support the program.

“When I started thinking about doing this for the office, I saw it as a win-win for everyone involved,” she said. “The puppy gets the attention and socialization, and the Department of Defense puppy foster program wins. Eventually they will go do their job as a military working dog. They are just military working puppies right now.”

The deciding factor was the ability to split responsibility between Ms. Witter, Master Sgts. Jason Hohenstreiter and Don Friemel, both assigned to the Readiness Flight, with the program’s option for joint custody.

“(Adopting a puppy) can be a really big undertaking,” Sergeant Hohenstreiter said. “Being able to take a break works out better for everybody, especially for the dog. Then the dog is getting all the attention it needs and is not becoming a burden.”

Aamee, knows her way around the building, but she is getting to know the base as well. She’s gone to commander’s call, Veterans in the Classroom training and the Skylark Bowling Center.

“People love the visits,” Ms. Witter said. “The puppy draws a crowd. We don’t have to say ‘Hey, here, look! It’s the puppy!’ The more visibility we provide her, the more people see her and the more people understand the program and ask about it.”

The foster program requires constant puppy supervision and specific guidelines for care.

“You are trying to prepare the dog for training,” Sergeant Hohenstreiter said. “You are getting it ready for school, almost like pre-K; you just want to help them develop the skills that are going to help them succeed.”

Ms. Witter said the large kennel whether in the office or at home, is the puppy’s main base so she gets accustomed to living in tight quarters.

“She has to eat and sleep in her crate,” she said. “That’s her home whether it’s in my house or in Iraq. They want her to be comfortable in that adjustment.”

Even playtime is more about building motor skills than having fun. Sergeant Hohenstreiter said playing fetch has rules; too, you never pull the tennis ball out of her mouth.

Describing tug-o-war, Ms. Witter added, “Puppy always wins.”

Though caring for Aamee is demanding of time and patience, Ms. Witter said she’s looking at the big picture.

“One day she might save a life; that’s what these puppies are eventually trained to do in Iraq, Afghanistan or even an airport,” she said. “When I see the grown dogs doing their thing, I’m just amazed and in awe of how they do it. Now, to be a part of how they develop and how they get there, it’s just a good feeling.”

Aamee returns to the military working dog program in August to undergo patrol or drug and explosive detection training.


Military Working Dog strengthens community ties

Posted in air force teams with tags , , , , , , on May 9, 2009 by wardogmarine

By Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
May 7, 2009 – 7:18:59 PM
Blackanthem Military News

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The 22nd Security Forces Squadron performed a military working dog demonstration for more than 200 elementary school students at Wichita Collegiate School April 24.

Team McConnell fostered a greater bond with the local community as well as the Marine Corp by coming out to perform a MWD demonstration and to speak to the students about their canines.
Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, 22nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master, answers questions about military working dogs during a demonstration at Wichita Collegiate School April 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton)    

The children had a vested interest in learning about MWDs because they spent a year raising a golden retriever named Trinidad, to become a service dog. The children raised the dog until it was old enough to be sent to the Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services Corporation.

Raymond Geoffroy, assistant deputy commandant, plans, policies, and operations at the Pentagon, visited and spoke to the children about working dogs and their service dog. He spoke about how MWDs have helped the military for many years and about how service dogs help people all over the world.
“I want everyone to know that dogs really are man’s best friend, not only from the standpoint of helping the elderly, but also from a military standpoint,” said Mr. Geoffroy.
Mr. Geoffroy played a MWD video and then introduced McConnell’s kennel master, Tech Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, along with dog handlers Staff Sgts. Max Soto and Michael Shelite, Senior Airmen Paul Quilty and Billy Lofton, all from the 22nd Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Bechtel spoke briefly about MWDs and how the Air Force uses them to assist in finding dangerous substances such as bombs and drugs.
Sheryl, one of McConnell’s working dogs, was lead out by her handler, Airman Lofton, to perform a short demonstration of what she does on a regular basis. Airman Lofton guided Sheryl along a series of suitcases in front of the stage, where she found no suspicious objects. Sheryl is nine years old and is nearing her date of retirement.
After the demonstration Sergeant Bechtel answered questions about MWDs and their use in the Air Force.

Man’s Best Friend

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2009 by wardogmarine

5/8/2009  By
Pvt, Spencer M. Hardwick,
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C.  — It’s always been said, although the originator of the phrase is unknown, that a dog is a man’s best friend.

Corporal James Duck knows the depth of such a statement; his job, better still, his life revolves around this four-legged creature. He is a military police canine handler with the Provost Marshals Office and he spends his days taking care of, and training, his dog, Bancuk. Bancuk is a six-year-old Belgian Malinois and has deployed to Iraq as a working dog three times. Duck and Bancuk deployed together to Fallujah, Iraq as part of II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Bancuk, a military working dog, works aboard the Air Station with handler Cpl. James Duck, a military police dog handler with the Provost Marshals Office, Monday.

“I’ve been here close to three years and I’ve had her for about half that,” Duck said, “I really love her; I consider her one of my best friends. I look at her like I would my child.”

While in garrison, Duck and Bancuk conduct random vehicle checks, health and comfort inspections for barracks rooms and walking patrols. They work here at the Air Station, as well as Laurel Bay, Marine Corps Recruit Deport Parris Island and Naval Hospital Beaufort. Handlers are normally solely responsible for their dog. However, sometimes other Marines help out around the kennel.

A handler’s duty overseas, however, is a totally different story.

“She was with me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Duck said. “That dog did not leave my side the entire time I was there. Every patrol I went on, every cache sweep … she stayed with me.”

Based in Fallujah, Duck and Bancuk frequently ventured out to various forward operating bases to conduct sweeps for weapons caches, improvised explosive devices and house searches. They worked with various units in the province, including Navy SEAL’s and Company F, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He cared for her, fed her and groomed her. She even slept in the cot with him, diligently watching over her master and his gear.

“Every time I hit the rack she would jump up and sleep on my feet,” Duck said. “She lived with me for seven months. This one time, I had some food sitting on my rack and I walked away to get some water. When I came back, the food was missing and she was trying to give me this innocent look like she didn’t eat it. It was pretty funny; I couldn’t stay mad at her. It was really nice having her with me. It was like having one of your best friends on deployment with you.”

Having an animal at your side constantly in a combat zone paves the way for mixed emotions as there are good and bad experiences to be had.

“It’s like having a best friend and a newborn child at the same time,” explained Duck. “They offer companionship that is irreplaceable but they also need attention and care almost constantly. I was on a patrol one time near one of the F.O.B’s outside of Fallujah checking out hot spots some choppers warned us about and we came across this irrigation ditch. It was probably two or three feet wide and had a concrete slab on top of it.  While we’re walking across this thing, she decides to jump off the slab; the problem was that I was holding her leash. So, when she jumped, I had sixty pounds of weight pulling me down and I smacked headfirst onto the concrete. I was mad at the time but its kind of funny looking back on it now. That deployment was full of situations like that.”

Their working relationship will end soon, however as Duck prepares for his upcoming end of active service date. Bancuk will likely go to a new handler because she already has established habits and she already knows what’s going on, according to Duck.

“I am not looking forward to having to leave her behind at all,” explains Duck. “I’m ready to move on with my life but I love that dog. I really wish I could adopt her and take her with me. I don’t really know how to explain it but there’s a certain bond that grows between a handler and a working dog. I’m going to miss her.”

So, as Duck moves on with his life and goes forth to do great things, Banuck will remain here, continuing to serve the Marine Corps as a faithful military working dog and a Marine’s best friend.

Vietnam Veterans ‘Feed the Dawgs’

Posted in air force teams, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Lisa Camplin
95th Security Forces Squadron

4/22/2009 – EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  — On any normal day in Military Working Dog sections around the world the phrase “Feed the Dawgs” brings to mind the handler’s daily chores. However, on April 19 at the 95th Security Forces Squadron, Military Working Dog section here it had a completely different meaning.
Vietnam veterans ‘Feed the Dawgs’
Staff Sgt. Eric Magnuson, 95th Security Forces Squadron K-9 handler, handles Military Working Dog Nix as they display the capabilities of today’s military working dog to group of Vietnam-era dog handlers at the 95th SFS working dog area April 19. “Feed the Dawgs,” is a group of Vietnam era dog handlers who visit K-9 handlers and provide meals for the handlers and their families. (Air Force photo/Lisa Camplin)

“Feed the Dawgs is a U.S. Veterans group of Vietnam era dog handlers who travel from base-to-base to provide a meal for K-9 handlers and their families,” said Kenneth Neal, Vietnam Dog Handlers Association member.

The Veteran dog handlers brought everything from cases of steaks to bags of homemade cookies, all served with a healthy side of K-9 war stories.

“The hardest part about going to war and coming home during the Vietnam Era was that nobody said thank you,” said Jon Hemp, U.S. Air Force K-9 Veteran. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” 

Mr. Neal served two tours in Thailand during the Vietnam War with his partner Sentry Dog Rinny.

“Back then military working dogs were sentry dogs, which meant they were virtually uncontrollable. Once the dog was released there was no calling them back,” he said. “Those dogs went through weeks of aggression training after their regular canine training at Lackland AFB, Texas. Their purpose was to cause irreparable damage.”

Regardless of the extreme ingrained aggression of military working dogs back then, the bonds formed between handler and dog were just as strong as they are today.

“I loved my dog [Astor]. He weighed 85 pounds to my 165 pounds but, he took me wherever he wanted to go,” said Mr. Hemp. “K-9 was the Air Force’s night vision back then. We stood guard along the perimeter at night watching for threats.”

Sadly, Sentry Dog Astor was killed during the U.S./Libyan stand-off at Wheelus Air Base, Libya. In fact, many MWD’s failed to return home during the Vietnam War era either due to loss in combat or because they had to be left behind due to threats of foreign disease and viruses.

As quickly as the Veterans eyes saddened while they reflected on their personal stories, they brightened again upon seeing Edwards working dogs brought out for a demonstration in the training yard.

Tech. Sgt. John Ricci and Staff Sgt. Eric Magnuson, 95th SFS military working dog handlers, escorted military working dog Nix. Together, they put on an attack work and bite training demonstration to show the skills of today’s Air Force working dogs.

“In the 60’s and 70’s our bite wraps were made of used fire hoses covered with old field jackets,” Mr. Neal said, as he watched Sergeant Ricci take several aggressive bites from military working dog Nix.

Today’s bite wraps consist of layers of burlap and leather, which take most of the pressure and pain out of a bite.

After the demonstration, several of the military working dogs were brought out to capture a rare group photo of Air Force K-9 handlers past and present.

“To be lucky enough to have prior K-9 handlers take the time to recognize what we do and to share their stories is so invaluable.” expressed Master Sgt. Jon Camplin, 95th SFS Kennel master.

“Working with military working dogs isn’t an exact science because you’re dealing with a living, breathing animal that has a mind of its own,” said Sergeant Camplin. “A great K-9 handler learns everything possible from other K-9 handlers and puts all of that knowledge into their own little bag of tricks.”

“Just spending 10 minutes with any of the war veteran handlers here today is one of the most special learning experiences any of our current handlers could hope for,” said Sergeant Camplin.

By the end of the afternoon one message was clear, even decades after a military working dog handler’s career ends, he or she still has a K-9 bond with all handlers that only people like them could understand. Their patriotism and love and respect for all things K-9 stands true.

You can see this article here: K9 Vietnam Vets

Man’s best friend wags tail to security in Mosul

Posted in Army Dog teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by wardogmarine

By Pfc. Sharla Perrin, 3rd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq – The 351st Military Police Company, deployed under Task Force Greywolf, 25th Infantry Division, coordinated for 2nd Battalion, 6th Brigade., 2nd Iraqi Army Division soldiers to participate in a military working dog demonstration, April 6, at Combat Outpost Spear Base in Mosul, Iraq.
Running from Rronnie
Pvt. Khalaf Kassim Ketti, an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division, donned a padded suit and played the part of “chew toy” as part of a demonstration at Combat Outpost Spear April 6. Rronnie, a military working dog used in Mosul, and his handler Staff Sgt. Michael Hile, with the 527th Military Police Company, demonstrated the importance of utilizing the dogs by performing several tactics including “pursue to attack.”

The demonstration was to prepare the Iraqi troops to potentially handle military working dogs in the future.

“Today at COP Spear we’re teaching these Iraqi Soldiers the importance of having a military working dog,” said Spc. Aaron Moseley, with the 351st MP Co., a native of Cordova, Ala. “Sometimes the military working dog can find things the human cannot, so we’re trying to convey the importance of having the K9 working with them.”
Find It!
Rronnie and his handler, Staff Sgt. Michael Hile, with the 527th Military Police Company, search a vehicle staged with a hidden baggie of explosives as part of a demonstration at Combat Outpost Spear. April 6.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hile, a military working dog handler with 527th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, demonstrated several search and attack tactics with his canine partner, Sgt. 1st Class ‘Rronnie.’

Rronnie successfully discovered a hidden baggie of C4 explosives in a staged vehicle, chased and attacked an escaped detainee and escorted the detainee to a secure location.

Moseley agreed to play the part of detainee by putting on a two-piece cushioned body suit and harassing and running away from Hile in the “attack” portion of the demonstration. Moseley prompted five attacks from Rronnie and both were panting for air by the end of the exercise.
Not All Dogs Are Evil
Staff Sgt. Michael Hile, a military working dog handler with the 527th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, and a native of Prineville, Ore., explains the importance of the military working dog to the Iraqi Army soldiers, April 6, at Combat Outpost Spear in Mosul. Hile and his canine companion, Rronnie, demonstrated their skills in search, detain and attack for the Iraqi soldiers.

“It was good, I really enjoyed it,” Moseley said. “It got a little nerve racking right before he let the dog loose. Once he actually latched on, I felt a lot of pressure on my hand. I didn’t feel the teeth, but it still hurt a little.”

Moseley wasn’t the only one that let himself be used as a chew toy. One IA Soldier also took the challenge and donned the bear-like suit.

Hile said that trying to get someone to get bit by the dogs is hard, and typically Iraqis are afraid of dogs.

“An Iraqi doing it is great,” he said. “It showed them to be less scared of the dogs and what it feels like to actually get bit.”

Moseley said that the training was a hit among his IA counterparts.

“I believe they enjoyed it very much,” he said. “They were attentive and wanted to join in on the class. I think that anything with hands-on activity is received pretty well.”
Break For It
Spc. Aaron Moseley, with the 351st Military Police Company, who hails from Cordova, Ala., played the part of ‘chew toy’ during a demonstration of one of Forward Operating Base Diamondback’s military working dogs. Moseley donned the padded suit and performed several scenarios, including “escape,” so the dog would attack him.

Being prepared to use military working dogs is another step towards the Iraqi Security Forces’ mission to permanently secure Iraq.

Moseley said that he likes teaching the IA Soldiers what it takes to complete their mission.

“I enjoy helping others. For us to be able to come and help the Iraqi forces gain some knowledge to help their country be a safer country,” he said, “you know, that’s something I take pride in.”

Article found here: Mosul K9

R.I.P.: Roy, the Petaluma police dog

Posted in fallen dogs, police dog teams, police dogs, retired dogs with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by wardogmarine


Petaluma’s acclaimed police dog, Roy, died last weekend, leaving a legacy of city service and a reputation as an award-winning law enforcement canine.

The 14-year-old Belgian Malinois “retired” from service in January 2007 after eight years and continued living with his handler, Officer Paul Accornero.
Petaluma’s acclaimed police dog, Roy, died last weekend.

The death has been a blow to officers, said Sgt. Mark Hunter, who supervises the department’s two dog teams.

“It’s a part of your family and it’s a co-worker,” Hunter said. “It’s a great loss for us all.”

The police department bought Roy in spring 1999 and Accornero trained him for narcotics work, patrol duty and countless good-will sessions at schools and community gatherings.

Roy was a friendly police ambassador but also a serious tracker of lost people, hiding suspects and stashed narcotics. Officers appreciated the extra protection he offered.

Hunter said Roy helped arrest more than 120 suspects and seize more than $313,000 in illegal drugs and $155,000 in drug money.

Roy also built an impressive reputation in police dog competitions. He earned 103 awards over the years, including several “Top Dog” awards at California competitions. He and Accornero won gold medals in the 2001 World Police and Fire Games in Indiana, the 2001 California Police Summer Games and the 2004 California Police Summer Games, Hunter said.

In his final year working for the department, Roy won the “Top Dog” award in the narcotics division in the 2006 trial season competition for the Western States Police Canine Association.

“He was not just known on a local level. He was very well known throughout the (law enforcement) canine community,” Hunter said.

Petaluma currently has two police dogs, Rico and Kilo. They are two of about 20 police dogs working in Sonoma County.

Article found here: The Press Democrat

Ceremony recognizes military working dog’s contributions, achievements

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by wardogmarine

By: Spc. Howard Alperin, MND-B PAO.

BAGHDAD – Military working dog teams from throughout Victory Base Complex came out April 13 for a ceremony at the division chapel to honor one of their own. Kevin, a military working dog, passed away due to complications from cancer. His death was unexpected and left the other half of his team, Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, in limbo and in mourning.
A memorial tribute honors a fallen comrade April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. chaplain. “It is appropriate to honor their service.”

While in theater, military working dogs are not replaced, so Meier will be reassigned to other duties for the remainder of his deployment. As Meier now turns his attention to new job responsibilities, most of his focus still remains on the loyal partner and friend he lost.

“Kevin was the highlight of my day,” said Meier, a military dog handler, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master for Camp Liberty, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div., addresses Soldiers at a ceremony to celebrate the life of one of their own, April 13, at Camp Liberty.  “We consider the military working dogs to be Soldiers too,” said Jasper, from Everett, Wash.  Jasper read the poem, ‘I wait by the gate,’ in honor of Kevin.

For more than four years, Meier and Kevin built an excellent working relationship together. “Kevin was a great patrol explosive detector dog,” said Meier. “I could flip his on and off switch easily because of all the training we did together.”

During their course of working together, the relationship developed further and formed a powerful, personal bond between them. “I was planning on adopting Kevin after this deployment,” said Meier. “This was his last time deploying because of his age.”
Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, a military dog handler, sits somberly during a ceremony highlighting the life of his deceased partner, Kevin, April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Kevin was my buddy.  He was affectionate, very protective and an excellent worker,” said Meier, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Though he never got to adopt him, Meier and Kevin still had many unforgettable moments together. “I pampered him a lot because a happy dog works better.” Meier recalled the first time he gave Kevin a pillow to rest his head when they were together in a hotel preparing for a Secret Service mission. “Kevin had many human characteristics,” Meier added.

Kevin’s traits will always stick out in the minds of those who knew him. “He was very protective of Sgt. Meier,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master at Camp Liberty, DSTB, 1st Cav. Div. “Besides being a great detection and patrol dog, he was good for law enforcement purposes.”

As one of the first dogs to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kevin’s achievements were acknowledged during the ceremony. There were poems read in his honor, Taps was played by a 1st Cav. Div. trumpeter and military working dog teams left snacks in Kevin’s bowl as a tribute to his service. “It is appropriate to honor their service,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. command chaplain and co-coordinator of the ceremony. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Staff Sgt. Jasper, “We consider dogs to be Soldiers too, they are constantly working.” The ceremony gives credit to all the dogs and all the work they do here and in the United States, he added.
Soldiers and their military working dog partners take time to pray in honor of Kevin, a military dog who succumbed to cancer.  “It was a good memorial, they don’t happen often for the dogs,” said Sgt. Matt McCummins, a military dog handler, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div.

Military working dog teams are called upon often to perform their duties, so there is rarely a chance for teams from the different camps to see each other. Kevin afforded each team the opportunity to see in each other more of the common ground they share.

As Kevin’s life, the attachment Meier had with him and the work they accomplished together were celebrated, new bonds formed among the Soldiers. They realized more the value of their military working dog teams and appreciated the chance for one of their own to be recognized.
This article found here: MWD Kevin Article