Best Bully Sticks had the opportunity to meet Richmond K-9 Police officers and their K-9’s this spring! Not only did these 5 dogs get to enjoy Best Bully Sticks treats while at our office, they each left with a goody bag containing an assortment of popular dog chews and treats.
We spoke with Sergeant Michael Bohannon, supervisor of the unit, to learn more about the K9 teams that have been serving Richmond, Virginia since the 1950’s.
What are your dogs trained to do?
The Richmond K-9 Police currently has 8 Patrol dogs, 3 Narcotics dogs, and a bloodhound who is trained to follow human odor. Patrol dogs look for people and evidence by conducting building searches, tracking and searching for evidence, as well as do apprehension work with suspected criminals. In terms of scent work, patrol dogs are also trained to recognize smokeless powder and are able to alert their handler to anything with this odor (such as firearms, bullets, casings, etc.) during an article search. The 3 dogs trained in narcotics are trained to be able to detect 5 different narcotics odors, in various places such as buildings, cars, people, luggage and much more.
Lastly the bloodhound Knick has a really strong sense of smell and can best discern between scents. While most patrol dogs will follow the freshest scent, dogs trained like the bloodhound can scent discriminate and can follow the specific scent they are tracking. K-9s like Knick are very valuable in police work because they can track missing persons or criminals on the run.
We noticed that the dogs are given commands in the language of the country they came from. Why is this done?
Many of our dogs come to us from Europe, so if they have already received some training in that country, it makes sense to continue the commands in that language. Ideally, we prefer them to have no training before they join us.
We came across some historical photos of obstacles used for training the K-9’s. Are these still used?
Yes, some of those obstacles are currently used. In 2012, 12 groups of Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts volunteered their time by rebuilding the courses at our facility. Obstacle training is important for the K-9’s because in their work, they must be able to jump fences, crawl through pipes, and other challenges. Training at our facility allows the dogs to get used to obstacles they may experience on the job.
When not working, what do Richmond K-9s enjoy?
Our handlers are responsible for their K-9s 24/7, so in their downtime, the dogs enjoying playing and socializing with their handler. They love toys– it’s their favorite reward.
To learn more about the history of the Richmond, VA K-9 Unit, visit RPDKHistory.com, compiled by former police officer and K-9 handler Harry Pherson.
Interested in learning more about working dogs? Check out our Military Working Dog Breeds post!