It is a warm September morning in Dundalk and the Baltimore County Police Department’s two newest K-9 recruits have just started their training.
In August, the Baltimore County Police K-9 Unit selected two German Shepherds out of a group of dogs from a vendor in Pennsylvania. Both dogs were born in Europe and are each one-year-old. Any dog selected by the Department has to meet strict standards that will indicate the dog will be successful in further training and future use in law enforcement. The selection process can take anywhere from one to three days.
K-9 recruit Dex will be training with Corporal Griffin and K-9 recruit Rex will be training with Officer Huesman. During the next 16 weeks they will go through a rigorous training and evaluation process. If they make it to the end of the training, they will graduate as patrol dogs. Most K-9 dogs begin their careers, which average from seven to eight years, as patrol dogs. With further training, the K-9 dogs can be certified for specialized duties such as drug and bomb detection.
Once they graduate from basic K-9 training, the K-9 dogs must complete at least two training and evaluation sessions each month for the rest of their law enforcement career.
Lieutenant Peach describes the care provided to the K-9 dogs as “top shelf care”. Dogs get regular veterinary examinations and are constantly monitored by their handlers. They also get the best dog food available. Peach further described the attention given to the unit’s K-9 dogs as the attention that a “pro athlete” might get.
During their law enforcement careers, the K-9 dogs live with their handler and the handler’s family and many dogs will stay with the family after they retire from law enforcement service. There is a strong bond that develops between the K-9 dog, its handler, and the handler’s family. “The K-9 dog becomes a part of that family. When a K-9 dog dies, it is like losing a member of the family” Peach said. “The family grieves and receives support from other families of K-9 officers.”
If they pass their training, Rex and Dex will officially graduate in early January and join the other members of the Baltimore County Police Department in protecting the citizens of Baltimore County.
Baltimore County's New K-9 Recruits (Rex is on the left and Dex is on the right)
More pictures of Dex and Rex are available on our Facebook page.