Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers and their K9 partners met in Claremore Wednesday to complete yearly training required by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
The program, conducted in cooperation with Claremore Police Department and Claremore Public Schools, provides a venue for the required training.
Officers from Sallisaw, Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma panhandle travel to Claremore, because the old school building is a great facility for dog training, according to OHP Lt. Lance Schryer.
The dogs are tested to determine if they recognize the odor of drugs including methamphetamine, marijuana and heroine, Schryer said.
They are also tested outdoors to ensure each animal follows the handler’s commands.
Currently, OHP has 13 dogs in their K9 unit, ranging in age from 13 months to nine years. This spring, two more dogs will be added to the unit, according to Schryer.
Malinois and other shepherd breeds are commonly used as police dogs. Although they appear social, the public should be aware the canines are not your everyday dogs.
The police dogs are not pets; they are working animals, according to Schryer.
“If you know it is a police dog you shouldn’t approach it,” Schryer said.
Work dogs are trained toward aggression and the worst thing someone could do is yell, kick or otherwise act in a hostile way to the animal. Doing so could cause the K9 to react, Schryer said.
“What people need to understand about police dogs is they get paid to find drugs, find bombs and find or fight bad guys; that is there job,” Schryer said.
While in Claremore the dogs not only completed their training, but also received a veterinary check up.
Each dog is an investment for a police department, much like their human handlers.
When purchased, the animals cost approximately $8,500 with no training, and once their certification is complete they are worth about $15,000.
The dogs are very well cared for, according to Schryer.