Sheriff’s department hopes to have new K9 trained and ready to go by June 2014

By Audrey Posten

In a July 16 presentation to the Marquette City Council, Matt Moser, the Clayton County Sheriff Department’s K9 handler/officer, said the department plans to retire current K9 Bear in June 2014, and hopes to have a new dog trained and ready to take over at that time.

In order to ensure that the county does not go without a K9 unit, Moser said the department needs to meet its $11,000 fundraising goal by Sept. so that a new dog can be purchased.

Moser said the purchase of a new K9, as well as training for both himself and the dog, will cost anywhere from $8,500 to $11,000. The department has been looking at a kennel in Michigan that would make the purchase. While Bear is a Belgium Malinois, Moser said the new K9 could come from anywhere in Europe.

The dog has to be at least six months old before it can be tested to train. By the time it is ready to hit the streets, the dog will be 14 months old.

The department currently has $9,260 raised, but that does not take into account expenses that will be incurred at the upcoming Aug. 18 fundraiser, which will include a hog roast dinner, raffle and jail tours.

In addition to the purchase of the K9 and the requisite training, Moser said he would also like to purchase some other items, including a bite suit. While he and the new K9 will have to attend a four to five-week handler school outside the county, Moser said, with the purchase of a bite suit, he would be able to do additional training in Clayton County. The bite suit would cost $1,000.

Moser said he would also like to purchase a behavior-shaping device, which he said looks like a cannon, with a prize or reward inside. He would like to purchase two, at a cost of $625 per device.

“It will help the dog stay focused,” Moser explained. “He’ll think the reward will always come from the drugs.”

Moser would also like to obtain a $500 license from the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to obtain certified narcotics for training purposes.

Since Bear took over in 2009, Moser said Bear has had a 94.1 percent accuracy rate. The department has used him 269 times, roughly 67 times each year. He has made over 80 narcotics arrests. That is 20 each year, compared to the 10 arrests a human officer usually makes.

During that same time, Bear has been used 55 times in the Marquette and McGregor area, not including school searches.

“We work nights,” Moser said, “so you often don’t see us.”

Citing the K9 unit’s heavy use in the area, as well as the probability that the Aug. 18 fundraiser will yield more donations, the council approved a motion to provide $2,125 to the K9 unit for the purchase of the bite suit, one behavior-shaping device and the DEA licensing.

If the department exceeds the fundraising goal, Chief Deputy Ryan Johnson said those extra funds would go toward ongoing maintenance of the K9 program, replacing things like collars and leashes.

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