New Troy Police dogs specialize in drug, bomb detection (PHOTO GALLERY)
Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Troy Police Department just added a new officer. According to her partner, she is friendly, energetic and can really sniff out a crime.
Ista is part of the K-9 Unit, the second Belgian Malinois dog added to the police force. Her job is to sniff out explosives and to track people.
Ista’s handler, Officer Jonathan Johnson said Belgian Malinois dogs have begun replacing German Shepherds as the best breed for K-9 Units.
“They have a better health record,” he said.
German Shepherds often have hip dysplasia, a hereditary condition that causes rear leg lameness. The dogs come from Europe and are trained as puppies to sniff out explosives or drugs.
“It’s all a game for them,” Johnson said. “They’re thinking it’s a toy.”
Ista’s neighbor at the Troy PD kennel is Drako, a drug-sniffing dog and the first member of the K-9 Unit. The department has had Drako for about two years.
“Both of them have some tracking capabilities,” said Chief Jimmy Ennis.
Troy PD partnered with Troy University to acquire and train Ista. Drako was free to the City of Troy. The police department inherited Drako from another law enforcement agency.
The dogs will be used at university events and in Troy PD investigations.
Johnson works with Ista every day. She goes on patrol with him when he is working. When he is off, he still comes to the kennel to play with and care for Ista.
“These guys work hard training and caring for the dogs,” Ennis said. “We’re proud of our K-9 officers. They do a great job and are very dedicated.”
Before working in the K-9 Unit, Johnson patrolled by himself. He said he never wants to patrol without a dog again.
“After you work with a dog, you don’t ever want to work without a dog,” he said.
Officer Josh Wasden is Drako’s handler. He has handled dogs for more than three years and. Like Johnson, Wasden prefers working with dogs.
“It’s just that bond, having a partner that’s with you 24/7,” he said. “When you actually get to see the results of all the training, it’s a very rewarding feeling.”
For now, the K-9 Unit will remain the size it is, said Ennis.
“I can’t foresee a need for any more dogs right now,” he said. “But never say never.”