Rock County plans to add second K-9

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staff, Gazette
Saturday, May 25, 2013

— The Rock County Sheriff's Office is getting ready to welcome a new member to its K-9 team.

Before it can do that, though, Sgt. Wayne Hansen says there's going to be a lot of training.

The 14-month-old female German shepherd was imported from Germany to a North Carolina company called Tarheel Canine Training in Sanford, N.C., Hansen said.

Deputy Nathan DeBoer will fly to North Carolina on June 1 to meet his new partner, and then spend one month training with the dog, Hansen said. After that, Rock County's newest K-9 officer will move north and head out on patrol with DeBoer, Hansen said.

The new dog, a yet unnamed female, will help authorities search cars and homes for drugs, locate missing persons and subdue subjects, Hansen said.

"Let me tell you, they are quite the deterrent," said Hansen, a former K-9 handler.

The new dog will become the fourth K-9 in Rock County. She joins Dex, the sheriff's office's other K-9, and two Janesville Police dogs, Hardy and Karo.

Beloit's police dog retired earlier this month.

The sheriff's office dogs are deployed around the area, Hansen said. For instance, if Edgerton police need a K-9 to search a car they suspect has drugs, either Dex or the new dog can help out.

Each dog and handler will work a daily shift, one from afternoon to evening and the other from evening until morning, Hansen said. When they're not working, the dogs live with their deputies.

The sheriff's office also ran into trouble more than a decade ago when deputies, including Hansen, who handled K-9s, claimed overtime pay for time spent caring for dogs at home.

Authorities have worked out a system to avoid those issues, Hansen said.

Deputies' shifts are shortened by half an hour, he said, which is time the deputies are then paid to care for the dogs at home.

Getting a new police dog isn't cheap. The total cost for the latest addition is just shy of $12,000.

Most of that money came from the sheriff's office budget, although some funding came from a private donation. The Rock County Board approved the spending May 9.

The dogs prove their value, though, Hansen said. In the three years that Deputy Shawn Nolan has worked with Dex, Hansen estimated the pair has made hundreds of drug arrests.

K-9s also are useful in helping search buildings, and with their refined senses they can reach people who need help faster than a human officer might, Hansen said.

"If someone's in there, they're going to find you," he said.

And during a late-night traffic stop, when one deputy might have to approach a car full of potentially uncooperative or hostile people, having a K-9 at his side is priceless, Hansen said.

"They see you've got a dog and next thing you know it's, 'Yes sir, no sir,'" he said.

Last updated: 10:32 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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