K-9s put to the test in Dickinson

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A dog’s nose is 10,000 times more powerful than a human’s, according to a K-9 handler with the Dickinson Police Department.

On Wednesday afternoon in Dickinson, ND those noses were put to the test.

In an impound lot in the East End of town, a huge drug bust took place, but don’t be alarmed it was only a test.

“Basically, for court reasons, you have to show the dog and the handler are proficient in locating narcotics,” said sheriff Corey Lee, Stark County Sheriff’s Office. 

Six law enforcement agencies from the across the state(Dickinson, Belfield, Jamestown, Bismarck, Adams County, Dunn County) took part in a narcotics certification test for the National Police Canine Association.

In the impound lot, four vehicles were put in a row, and drugs were stored in two of the four vehicles.

Drugs were stored in the exterior of one and the interior of the other, and the K-9 and the handler had eight minutes to locate them.

“I will lead the dog’s nose with my fingers, and I lead him to high source areas, door seams and things like that. . . where the odor is going to escape from the vehicle,” said officer Jayden Peters, K-9 handler Dickinson Police Department.

Officer Peters said  K-9s have different ways of notifying their handlers that they have sniffed out the drugs.

“Aggressive alert dogs will scratch or bite at the odor. Passive alert dogs will sit or lay down. Some will stare depending on where the odor is at,” said Peters. 

Sheriff Lee, who was one of the judges for the certification test,  said the K-9s and their handlers were also tested on detecting drugs in rooms and spaces.

At the end of the test, the pair had to score at least 75 percent to pass and if they don’t many times it is the handler’s fault.

“Sometimes it is poor leash control. . . .sometimes it is bad detailing. It can be any number of things,” said Lee. 

On Wednesday, the dogs were primarily tested on heroin and cocaine, with optional testing for ecstasy, marijuana, and meth.

Sheriff Lee said in the future some departments might stop having their K-9 units trained in marijuana detection now that medicinal marijuana is legal. 

“You will see some people getting away from that now. It’s a lot easier to not imprint the dog than have the odor(marijuana) taken away from them”.

At the end of the day the K-9s did their job of sniffing out the drugs, and their handlers showed their four-legged partners their appreciation.

Sheriff Lee said all the narcotic K-9s have to be certified every year.

They are also certified by the U.S Police Canine Association and the Midwest Canine Alternatives.

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