Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dog visit ends Red Ribbon Week

November 1, 2007

Lexington Trails Middle School Students finished off Red Ribbon Week Friday with a dog show.

Red Ribbon Week recognizes the importance of being drug free.

The students were treated to an assembly presented by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office Canine Patrol.

Before the assembly, students submitted questions they would like answered about the German shepherds used to sniff out drugs.

Officer Daniel Fretz read through some of the questions and provided insight on how the dogs were trained.

One student asked whether the drugs they find affected the dogs.

"It doesn't make them high or anything but if they eat some of it, it could kill them," Fretz said.

The dogs were born in Budapest, Hungary, and were trained to respond to commands in German, Fretz said. Officers train with their dogs for several months and are always with the dog once training is complete.

Fretz explained how his partner, Figo, lived outside in a kennel at his home, because they were always on call.

"They are not our pets, though," Fretz said. "We don't treat them as a pet. The only food he gets is dog food. No table scraps."

Another question was if the dogs were able to detect all drugs and what drugs were the most difficult to detect.

Fretz said the drug dogs were trained to detect all drugs, although some were harder than others.

"It's different for every dog," he said. "Like my dog, he can smell all the drugs, but the most difficult drug for him to find is heroine."

The dogs also are able to detect drugs that are covered up by other smells, Fretz said.

"A dog's sense of smell is about 100 times greater than our sense of smell," he said. "My dog, he alerted on 25 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a compartment of a truck. They had air freshener and grease wrapped around it to throw off the dog's scent."

At the end of the assembly, Officer Dusty Bernhardt brought in his partner, Ace, to sniff out a hidden package of marijuana under a cone.

Fretz said the dogs give an officer a passively alert signal that they found something as Ace sat down by the cone with marijuana hidden beneath it.

"It's our job as a handler to interpret our dog's actions," he said.

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