Tools

From puppy to police: a look inside NYS K9 training

By ANNA MEILER

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) -- At home you teach your dogs not to jump on counters and couches, but at K9 training school the rules are a little different.

"It's okay for the dog to jump up on the couch, to jump on any other piece of furniture, table or a cabinet to go where the odors coming from, whether it's a drug odor or bomb odor," said Doug Colwell, a New York State Trooper.

That's because these dogs are learning how to fight crime. They gain agility by jumping hurdles, speeding through tunnels, and climbing ladders. At a compound in Cooperstown, 14 dogs are training to become K9 troopers with the New York State Police, learning to detect drugs and explosives in just seconds.

"In his mind, there's a toy there so he's looking and looking and looking to find that toy," said Sergeant Jason Brewer.

And attack the bad guys.

"Every time it's like an adrenaline rush for me too, working with the dog and forming that bond with the dog. It makes for a good team," said Trooper Anthony Santoro.

The program is competitive and rigorous. The troopers live in this house with their sidekicks for five months Monday through Friday.

"And Friday when they leave here, they take their dogs home with them," said Sgt. Brewer.

Creating a bond between the trooper and the dog is one of the most crucial parts of training. That's because when they're in the field the dog is much more than a tool. He's their partner.

"It's your best friend. He's got your back all the time and you hope you have his," said Sgt. Brewer.

If all of these dogs graduate, New York State Police will have 85 K9 units and the need for them is growing.

"I think we need more. Having a K9 on the road is crucial to our job. Seeing what they can do, they're way more advanced than we are," said Santoro.

For many troopers, fighting crime is a call to duty and for these pups, their passion for policing is no diffierent.

"I think if the dogs could drive, they'd put me out of a job," said Sgt. Brewer.

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