MEDINA TWP. — Two police dogs took center stage at the Medina County Safety Council meeting Tuesday.
The dogs’ handlers gave a presentation about their canine partners and their role in combating drug-related crimes in the county.
Montville Township Officer Ryan Gibbons said he began working with county sheriff’s Deputy Dave King before he had a canine partner. He would request King’s dog to do a sweep of a vehicle he had pulled over if drug possession was suspected.
The officers worked together, he said, focusing on getting drugs off the streets.
King told the audience of about 50 at Weymouth Country Club that in the past three years, there have been 613 reported drug overdoses in Medina County, which resulted in 88 reported deaths.
“Part of the reason for our unit is to try and lower these numbers and get these people some help,” said King, who has been a dog handler for 10 years.
A few years ago, King said, he was uncertain if he would be able to continue as a K-9 handler because, his previous dog, at 11 years old, had become too old to work, and the department did not have the funds to replace it.
Using the sheriff’s Facebook page, however, donations were sought for a new police dog.
“In nine weeks we raised $30,000 and were able to get two dogs,” King said.
King then began working with a Belgian Malinois named Rocky.
“He has been out with me for about two years,” King said. “(He is) full of energy. It is like having a little kid with me every day.”
Gibbons said his dog, Blek, is a 4-year-old German shepherd.
“He is getting ready to turn 5 in February,” Gibbons said. “(His) temperament is a little different than Dave’s dog is, but he still does all the same tasks.”
Gibbons said the dogs do not play well together, and generally are kept apart because each dog believes it is the alpha male.
The dogs, which were imported from Slovakia at 1 year old, have been specially trained to detect narcotics.
“With the narcotics issue, the No. 1 way we can get in a car is using the dog’s nose,” Gibbons said.
He said if one of the dogs bites a fleeing suspect, it is not because they are mean. It is because they have been trained to associate that with play.
“From day one, they are teasing them with the ball,” he said. “They are biting because they think you are a giant tug toy.”
Both Rocky and Blek were brought in at the end of the meeting. King and Gibbons showcased their dogs’ abilities to catch balls and jump.
The next meeting of the Medina County Safety Council is Feb. 20, at Weymouth Country Club, where guest speaker Chad Cunningham talk about being prepared for violent incidents. For information, visit medinacountysafetycouncil.org.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.