This week’s featured question for an officer of the Merrill Police Department.
The question reads:
“What breed of pooch is the Merrill police dog and how old is he? I see pictures of him and think he’s absolutely beautiful! My first guess is a german shepherd but he looks a bit big than the average shepherd so was curious what hes mixed with? I also have a few questions about him and his owner. How does training work between them and how does the dog know to take commands only from his owner? I would imagine some may try and distract him when he is working! Is the dog kept at a special kennel at the police department or does he live with his owner too? Anything else you could tell me about him would be nice, I am very fascinated by police dogs. Thank you!”
Answer as given by Merrill Police Lieutenant and K9 handler Matt Drabek
“Eros is indeed a pure German Shepherd. He was actually born in Germany and began his training in Germany. As such his commands are in German and I had to learn a little bit of German to communicate his commands to him. He came to our department from Steinig Tal Kennels located in Cambellsport, WI (between Fond Du Lac and Milwaukee). He turned five years old on March 17th. He is actually on the smaller side for a male German Shepherd being right around 70lbs. He was the smallest dog in his class when we went through certification.
“We train sixteen hours per month and must re-certify each year which is a 40 hour week. I typically train with other local police canines. The Wausau PD has two eight-hour training dates per month and other local canine teams will join them for an eight hour day of training. I also do some training on my own and/or with other officers’ assistance. I complete my re-certification through Steinig Tal Kennels. This may seem like a lot of training but if we didn’t complete it Eros would become rusty in some areas (as well as myself) on things we don’t do a whole lot of in the real world. We re-certify to demonstrate that we are still competent in the areas he is certified in which include: drug detection, officer protection, tracking, area searches, building searches, apprehension and article/evidence detection.
“I haven’t had any problems so far with people trying to distract him intentionally. We have conducted vehicle drug sniffs on vehicles which held other dogs which would bark. One might think this would distract Eros from his sniff but it hasn’t. He has ignored the barking and completed the job at hand with no problems. If someone were to go beyond simply trying to distract him and attempted to harass, intimidate, frighten, threaten or abuse him they can be charged criminally under Wisconsin state statute 951.095 which covers harassment of a police canine.
“Eros is not kept at the Police Department but rather comes home with me and goes to work with me. The K9 squad he rides in is set up for him in what would otherwise be the back seat area.
“I am also fascinated by police dogs even after being a handler for three years now he continues to amaze me in how quickly he learns new things. They definitely are very intelligent and loyal dogs!”
Lt. Matt Drabek
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