Archive for canine unit

K9 Fights Off Man After He Attacks Officer

Posted in police dog teams, police dogs with tags , , , on July 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

Newsday via YellowBrix
July 10, 2009

Talk about taking a bite out of crime.

When an ex-con suspected of a New Cassel robbery lunged at the Nassau County police officer questioning him earlier this week, the officer’s German shepherd, Thunder, had a fierce reaction involving his teeth and the suspect’s thigh, authorities said.

It wasn’t Thunder’s first, ahem, collar of the week.

Just about 24 hours earlier, Thunder led the way to a fleeing assailant suspected of slashing a man in the face. The suspect had eluded cops by hiding in a shed in Island Park, but he gave up without a fight – or a bite – when Thunder found him. McGruff would be proud.

That’s the kind of loyalty, bravery and restraint police canine units in Nassau and Suffolk look for when scouting for dogs tasked with searching for drugs, explosives, hidden suspects and more, say the cops who handle them.

“The suspect – he dictates if he’s getting bitten or not – not the cop, not the dog,” said Sgt. John Hill, the supervisor and trainer of Nassau’s canine unit.

Hill’s unit has nine dogs, all German shepherds who hail from Europe. The canine team patrols the county and monitors police radio frequencies for incidents where a police dog might be able to help. They also do VIP assignments: It was Hill’s canine unit that helped sweep Hofstra University for explosives before last year’s presidential debate.


Dog is back on beat after surgery

Posted in police dog teams with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2008 by wardogmarine

German shepherd suffered a pinched nerve that hampered his mobility

Pfc. Jamie Machiesky feels the new strength and pull of narcotics dog Ken.(Baltimore Sun photo by Monica Lopossay / August 20, 2008)

By Tyeesha Dixon from The Baltimore Sun

It’s a common injury but often goes unnoticed.

And the pinched nerve that kept Ken, a 5-year-old German shepherd, from getting into a cruiser, using stairs or moving his tail could have abruptly ended his career as a drug-sniffing police dog.

That is, until he went under the knife.

Compression of the nerve roots in the lower back – a pinched nerve – is not uncommon among dogs. But the condition is difficult to diagnose unless the owner notices a change in the animal’s behavior, said Dr. William Bush, the veterinarian who performed the surgery on Ken.

In younger dogs, pinched nerves cause pain and can prevent them from using their tails and engaging in other forms of common activity. If the condition goes untreated, it can cause major problems later in life, such as incontinence. The same nerves that cause the pain run to the bladder, colon, back legs and tail.

“In older dogs, it progresses,” Bush said. “I think we’ve all seen dogs that are really slow to move, and often what happens is people say the dog’s getting old.

“When you think about the muscle atrophy or ‘wasted’ older dog, that’s progression. Some of those dogs end up euthanized,” he said.

In Ken’s case, his handler, Pfc. Jamie Machiesky, was able to pick up on the subtle changes – something that wouldn’t have been possible if the pair didn’t spend so much time together.

Ken joined the Howard County Police Department a year ago and is trained to sniff out marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. He is the youngest dog on the team, said Pfc. Joseph Gummo, canine trainer for the department.

Machiesky, a five-year member of the department, started working in the canine unit in May and has worked with Ken since then.

“He’s with me every day,” Machiesky said. “He stays at my home with me. I think if he wasn’t with me every day like that, we wouldn’t have picked up on [the injury].”

Machiesky said he and Gummo began to notice that Ken wouldn’t go up stairs or move his tail. They decided to take him in for magnetic resonance imaging to see what the problem was.

“We knew something was wrong; we just weren’t sure what it was,” Machiesky said.

The MRI showed a pinched nerve, which Bush says is similar to that in humans. Bush added that although the condition is common for all types of dogs, he sees it more in athletic dogs.

“This is such a common thing in people,” Bush said. “He basically got the same workup that a person would have.”

Bush performed the surgery June 26 at his office in Leesburg, Va. Had the condition not been corrected, Ken likely would not have been able to perform his functions as a police dog in a few years, Bush said.

“They need to perform certain tasks, and if they’re not 100 percent, it’s hard for them to do that,” Machiesky said.

Ken, who is also trained in criminal apprehension and building searches, must undergo a four-hour training session once a week, in addition to his normal duties.

“With working dogs, it’s real hard to tell when they’re in pain,” he said. “When we worked him, you couldn’t really tell.”

Gummo said the department was very supportive of the surgery, which cost about $5,000.

“Most of these injuries are career-ending,” Gummo said, noting that many police departments find it cheaper to retire the injured dogs and replace them.

“The department and chief really stepped up,” said Lt. Chuck Jacobs of the special operations unit, which includes the canine section. “It wasn’t even a question of doing the right thing.”

Gummo said that sometimes the condition is genetic and is common in police dogs. The animals are an important part of police work, especially in searching for narcotics and explosives.

The department uses six other dogs for police work, and last year, 350 apprehensions were made with them, Gummo said.

As for Ken, he has endured his suggested six-week recovery and is back on the job full time, Machiesky said.

The life of an off-duty police dog

Posted in Military Working Dogs, police dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , on August 12, 2008 by wardogmarine

At work, Gunner is a Blaine police officer’s partner. At home with the family, he’s a companion and a protector, but he’ll never quite be a pet.

By MARIA ELENA BACA, from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota

During work hours, Gunner is Blaine police officer Greg Rowe’s partner. The rest of the day, Gunner is Rowe’s dog.

Since June, Rowe and Gunner, a nearly 2-year-old German shepherd, have cruised Blaine each night as the city’s first K-9 team since the 1970s.

The K9 program was brought back this year as part of a department expansion that’s gone along with Blaine’s expansion, said interim Police Chief Chris Olson, who added that the department would like to add at least two more K9 teams to cover the clock.

The officer and his dog share an obvious bond, born of days of training and long, dark hours sharing a graveyard shift punctuated by bursts of activity. Seven months into their partnership, Gunner still is settling into home life with Rowe’s wife, Janet Running Rowe, and daughter, Kayla (plus two other dogs, a cat and a fish), where the relationship is a bit more complicated.

The traits that make Gunner a great K9 — persistence, courage and a strong drive to play — don’t necessarily make a great house pet. As he tracks bad guys, and eventually drugs, he can’t slow down to protect the furniture.

“He’s not really house-trained,” Running Rowe said. “He’s a one-man wrecking crew, that dog.”

Also, while Jake and Daisy, the family’s other dogs, live in the house and yard, Gunner is in the world. He may pick up fleas, and contagious bugs.

So the yard is Gunner’s living room. There, he can run with Jake and Daisy, play tug-of-war with Kayla, and act like a dog. He sleeps in an insulated kennel under the deck, his home on all but the coldest days.

Training materials aren’t allowed in the house. The sight of Rowe in uniform and the squad car seem to switch on Gunner’s working-dog instincts.

With Rowe on the graveyard shift, the family has to work together to care for the menagerie. Kayla and Running Rowe take their turns feeding and grooming Gunner.
 Published August 6, 2008 By Maria Baca, Star Tribune  
Blaine officer Greg Rowe and his daughter, Kayla, played with Gunner. Kayla, 13, helps care for him, but he is primarily a working dog, not a pet.

Kayla’s enthusiasm was one factor that persuaded Running Rowe, who was less than excited about the time commitment, not to mention the dangers to which life as half of the city’s sole K-9 team would expose her husband.

Rowe acknowledged her concerns, noting that Gunner always wants to find his quarry and has no fear of bad guys or guns. Still, Rowe views K-9 as one of the premier positions in policing, and he wanted to try it.

“He said, ‘You’re right, it may be too much,'” his wife recalled. “Then I realized, I’m bringing him down. This was really important to him and he needed to pursue that. … Kayla would be disappointed, Greg would be disappointed. We would make it work.”

The Rowes said it has been difficult for dog-crazy Kayla to see Gunner treated differently from the other dogs, less like a pet and more like a “tool.”

While he’s not a snuggler, Gunner is gentle with Kayla and her friends. And Kayla says she feels safer with him in the house.

Gunner seems to like when she brushes his thick coat and plays with him outside. She likes how he sits atop his dog house, like Snoopy. And Rowe says connections to humans help to socialize Gunner.

“I’m really lucky with Gunner,” Kayla said. “He likes playing. He’s just like any other dog.”

“Except that he has a job,” her mom added, laughing. “He pays for his food.”

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409 Visit this article by clicking here: off duty police dog