K9 officers stop by PVMS Career Day

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Last Thursday, as part of the Park View Middle School Career Day event, Officer Shane O’Donnell, along with his K9 officer dog Blesk, and Officer Nate Bagshaw and his K9 officer dog, Lex, visited the school to take part in four 20-minute presentations about the work of K9 officers.

Before the students entered the gymnasium where the presentation was taking place, the officers hid narcotics in several spots around the room. O’Donnell and Bagshaw began the presentation by describing the dogs, Lex and Blesk, two hybrid Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd dogs, each weighing approximately 100 pounds each, both three years old, both born in the Czech Republic.

“These dogs are not food-driven, they only ever eat dog food,” said O’Donnell. “They are toy driven and their ultimate reward is their rolled-up towel. They don’t ever let go of that towel once they are rewarded with it. The dogs live at home with us, and when they are home they are in their crates all day long because we want their work to be fun for them.”

Both dogs are given commands in a different language, so that they won’t answer any commands unless given by the officers who have been trained and who have trained them. The dogs’ work includes tracking human scents, metal, plastic and wood (such as a knife or a gun), and they are nationally certified, able to track five different types of narcotics: crystal methamphetamine, marijuana, crack, cocaine and heroin.

The dogs entered the room separately and each demonstrated several different tasks for the students, including tracking the hidden narcotics and showing how they train using bite suits. One bite suit was placed on an officer’s arm and when the dogs latched on to the arm they were deemed successful and rewarded.

“We need to talk to them in very high-pitched voices when we reward them because that’s how they know they’ve done a good job,” said Bagshaw. “It’s a lot like having a 5-year-old. They thrive on their rewards.”

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