Just like their partners, the four-legged 'deputy dogs' need to keep their skills sharp
(Update: Adding video, comments from Lieutenant William Bailey, K-9 deputy Jeremiah Johnson)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ)-K-9 dogs are following scents, catching suspects and solving cases. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit stages monthly training for its K-9s, and it’s paying off.
“With my first dog K-9, Ezel, we were able to track the kid about two miles away from the camp, and find him out in the woods and save him,” K-9 Deputy Jeremiah Johnson said at this week's training session.
And it wouldn't have happened without the help of the scent and tracking-trained K-9.
These dogs are constantly working, or training for what can sometimes be life-or-death situations.
The department has been training dogs since the '70s. K-9s and their partners train throughout the year, with two formal trainings held once a month. The dogs and their handlers become true partners, constantly working side by side and creating a strong bond.
Right now, it’s working with five dogs, including German shepherds and Belgian Malinois.
The dogs have caught numerous criminal suspects who run from law enforcement, refuse to obey commands or try to hide.
In search of the right kind of dog, the department goes up and down the West Coast. Lt. William Bailey said many dogs come from California.
"We’ll test a number of dogs that have the right attributes that we’re looking for in a patrol K-9 and then we’ll bring the dog back, and we’ll spend some time with it after the initial testing," Bailey said. "And start working through some of the basic obedience stuff, and some of the initial things that a patrol dog will need to do in the field."
The sheriff's office works with both "green" dogs and those who've had some level of training.
"A green dog has no training -- they don’t know how to do anything," Johnson said. "They have no obedience. They don’t really know how to do anything, and then we have to teach them."
Trained dogs are more controlled in different settings.
"They're obedient around every situation -- loud noises, crowds, suspects that are threatening," Johnson said.
After 240 hours of training, they get certified and earn a place in the patrol car, ready to help enforce the law and keep residents safe.