The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office officially began a K-9 unit in 1996. The unit then consisted of one officer, handling one cross trained patrol/narcotics dog. K-9 “Bern” was the first police dog to patrol the roads of Kanawha County. The success the department enjoyed with “Bern” led to the expansion of the K-9 unit.
Today, the unit consists of nine handler/K-9 teams. Six of the teams are cross trained, patrol/narcotics. Two are explosive detection teams and the final pair works in the Kanawha County School system to help curb drugs in our schools.
The patrol/narcotics K-9’s are trained in all phases of patrol work, including apprehending criminals and protection of their handlers. They are trained to track fugitives as well as those that may have simply become lost. Patrol dogs assist in the locating of evidence that may have been discarded or located in areas that are overgrown or hard to access.
Narcotics detection dogs are trained to indicate to their handlers, the presence of narcotics odors in or around vehicles, enclosures, packages, or objects. The narcotics detection dogs are trained to indicate marijuana, cocaine and its derivatives, methamphetamines, heroin, and prescription pills. New odors may be added to a detector dog as the need arises.
Explosive detection K-9’s are likewise trained to detect odors associated with components that can make up a multitude of explosive devices. Explosive detection dogs are “passive” indicators. Simply put, they will sit and stay in place to indicate to their handler, the presence of an odor which they have been trained to detect.
The entire team of patrol/narcotics K-9’s are Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mixes. The matriarch of the K-9 unit is K-9 “DEA”.
K-9 “Bosco” is a Chocolate Lab and “Bruno” is a German Shepherd. K-9 “Jojo” is a “mixed breed” and was rescued from a shelter. Jojo , and all these fine animals, are now proudly serving the citizens of Kanawha County.
There are two Master Trainers and are responsible for the initial and the continuing training of the K-9’s.
Over the years, this unit has been responsible for the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in street narcotics, currency and property. The unit has assisted in the apprehension of multiple suspects and the location of many missing individuals. The citizens of Kanawha County are safer with the presence of these dedicated handler /K-9 teams.