Local canines, LVH patients, work to keep Loudoun County community safe.
Recently, two very special local canines made headlines for their hard work and community service as members of the Leesburg Police Department. German Shepherds’ Otto and Bak retired with honors from police work in June; they spent a combined 16 years assisting their handlers with criminal apprehensions, narcotics detections, building searches, tracking and public demonstrations.
We are especially proud of these furry members of the police force, as they are also patients at our hospital! It is always a privilege seeing Otto and Bak when they come in for check-ups, and feel great pride in helping to keep them in tip-top shape for work.
Recently, we caught up with K9 Bak’s handler, Sgt. Dale Depoy, sniffing out the answers to what life is really like for a K9 police dog:
What does police dog training entail? What qualities did K9 Bak have that made him right for the job?
K9 Bak’s original training consisted of 14 weeks of basic police canine training. This training consisted of obedience (cornerstone of all training) agility, tracking, article searches, building searches, and apprehension work. After the initial training, K9 Bak went back through an additional 8 week narcotic school which allowed him to recognize and alert to five different narcotic odors. After all the basic schools, K9 Bak and I would attend K9 re-training two times a month in addition to the work we would do on our own. When looking for an ideal dog for police canine work, you begin looking for the right drives (characteristics) within the dog. The dog must have certain characteristics to be able to perform the job.
Explain how you and K9 Bak truly work as a team.
Over the last seven plus years, I was lucky enough to work with K9 Bak. I really learned to trust his instincts and his senses. I learned through training and experience to trust him when he is doing his job and don’t try to correct him from what he is doing because the majority of the time he was right.
What was your most memorable work experience?
One case stands out in particular. K9 Bak retrieved a baseball bat from a sewer that was utilized in an assault while we were actively tracking the suspect.
How do you raise public awareness about the importance of K9 police units? What do you do at the public demonstrations?
Public demonstrations are the best way to raise awareness about the abilities of the police canines. During public demonstrations, we cater the event to who the specific audience. We show the dogs’ obedience, their apprehension ability, narcotic detection or their explosive detection abilities.
What is the K9 Bak’s demeanor like when off the clock? Does he act differently at home?
K9 Bak always knew when it was time to go to work. When he got into the cruiser he was different, he was all business; no more playing unless it was getting rewarded for doing his job. K9 Bak at home is just a very active dog – he goes nonstop!
Be honest, do K9 police dogs like donuts just as much as their two-legged coworkers?
K9 Bak has always favored McDonalds fries or Slim Jims.
As stated in Leesburg Police Department’s press release regarding the K9s’ retirement, “both K9 Otto and K9 Bak will retire to a life of luxury with their handlers.” We think it’s safe to say Otto and Bak will be luxuriating in playtime, long naps and maybe a few extra trips through the fast food drive-thru – they deserve it! We thank all members of the Leesburg Police Force – both two-legged and four-legged – for their continual hard work in keeping our community safe!