K-9 training continues for officers’ best friend

ROME — They are a vital part of northwest Georgia police departments and sheriff’s offices — catching criminals, finding lost people and finding drugs.

Once they complete their training, they patrol alongside other officers.

But they drink their water out of a bowl, and when it is time to take a restroom break, well, let’s just say they don’t need a restroom.

These four-legged officers, also known as K-9s, are a vital part of local police departments.

And the dogs are not just hounds that can track people — even though they do that well.

All the dogs are trained to sniff out narcotics, said Richard Penson of the Rome Police Department, who works with his K-9, Diesel.

On Tuesdays, the officers and their masters meet to train at a course behind the animal shelter.

The dogs also undergo 12 weeks of training.

Recently the K-9 teams received first aid kits donated by Redmond Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services. These bags included splinting supplies, scissors, Quick-Clot, bandaging supplies and some commonly needed medications. Each K-9 also received a bag for their “human partners.”

“Although we respect all of our police officers for the protection they so selflessly provide to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is a particular group of very unique four-legged officers in our area,” said Sherry Peace of Redmond EMS. “Since these brave officers are put in harm’s way so often and are a bit anatomically different than humans, their handlers must go through extensive training to aid them if they are injured. The officers in our surrounding areas have had this training, yet medical supplies are costly.”

The teams that gathered at Redmond Regional Medical Center’s EMS facilities included Jon Zuker with the Cedartown Police Department and Kai; Tim Minter of the Floyd County Police Department and Sonnie (the only female); Penson and Diesel; Joel Stroupe with the RPD and Axel; John Koehler with the Rome-Floyd Metro Drug Task Force and Gibbs; Jimmy Allred of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office and Champ Two; and David Hightower of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Astro.

Penson added that many organizations in the community have supported the K-9 units and they couldn’t do it without their support.

“We’d also like to thank anyone who gave a donation,” Penson said. “We wouldn’t have the dogs if it wasn’t for all these people.”