Marion County retired two K-9 officers recently, but two new dogs have replaced them—one at the police department in Hillsboro and the other at the sheriff’s office in Marion.
K-9 Deputy Travis Wilson said his new partner, Cossta, 3, is a 52-pound Belgian Malinoise.
Wilson’s former partner, Dax, 7, was retired because of cataracts and arthritis, but he kept him on as part of his family.
“Dax is very social and he loves being around our children,” he said.
Officer/K-9 Unit Brad Richards, said Rico, 13, was also retired because the veterinarian detected arthritis at his recent checkup.
Richards, like Wilson, said he too is keeping his former partner. His is new partner, Remo, is an 80-pound Dutch Shepherd.
As with any new partner, Wilson said it’s hard to adjust.
“It’s difficult to replace an ex-partner,” he said, “because I knew what he could do and, besides that, there’s a sentimental attachment.”
“Dogs have different personalities and what might excite one won’t necessarily be the same thing that excites another,” he said.
When it came time to look for another partner, Richards said he checked with two different dog trainers before deciding on Remo.
What also made the decision easier was that both Wilson’s K9, Cossta, and Remo were both trained by Kiewel.
“I evaluated different dogs and both trainers,” Richards said, “and decided to go with Remo.”
Both dogs were born and raised in Germany and Richards said it’s a real advantage.
Germany, he said, is one of the more elite places for dog training.
Wilson and Richards both talk to their dogs in English, but when apprehending someone, then they speak in German.
“Brad and I train a lot together,” Richards said. “In fact, I am very confident that 90 percent of the time his dog will listen to me.”
What makes that important, Richards said, is that during the summer months the dogs cannot work as hard in the heat.
“This way they are able to help each other,” he said.
Richards said their K-9 partners are constantly in training.
“The big thing is to train in different environments by taking him to new places with new smells, so he thinks it’s natural and he won’t freak out,” he said.
Wilson said both dogs are trained to find odor sources and will sit down and look at something until one of us come and reward them.
“Both of our dogs are very solid in narcotics,” Wilson said.
Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said that 90 percent of what police do is searching for drugs.
“The next percentage is tracking,” he said.
Wilson said he and Richards will take their K9 partners into the Peabody, Centre, Goessel and Hillsboro schools.
“They are fine because they have worked around each other so much,” he said.
Kinning said that Remo, a $12,000 dog, was donated by the trainer to the Hillsboro Police Department.
“We also raise money every year for raising our dog,” he said. “We seek donations from businesses and individuals throughout the year for food, medicine and annual checkups.”
Wilson said the sheriff’s office has a K-9 fund using drug forfeitures.
“We try not using any tax dollars from the general fund,” he said.
The general public is also complimentary about the job the K9 officers are doing.
“The dogs do a lot of public relations,” Kinning said. “One of our big partnerships is with the schools and in providing a drug-free school zone.”
Both animals are capable of multi-checking vehicles and lockers at the schools, Richards said.
“Our schools want us to be there,” Kinning said.
Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft also wanted to thank people in the community for all the help they provide.
“By aiding us, we are able to continue in our efforts to keep Marion County a safe place to live and work.
Those who have donated $500 or more to the K-9 unit with the sheriff’s office include David Kiewel, USD 398, the city of Peabody, Peabody-Burns Recreation, Marion County Families & Communities Together, Shawmar Oil and James and Nancy Clouthier.
Kinning also wanted to thank those individuals and business who have helped with $100 or more for their K-9 unit.
Those include Hillsboro Community Foundation, Hillsboro Lumberyard, Concrete Products, Marion County Attorney, Hillsboro LEO Club, Marion County Special Alcohol, Countryside Feed, LLC, Hillsboro Lions Club (Evening), Hillsboro Ampride (COOP), Hillsboro Kiwanis Club, Roger and Cynthia Fleming, Golden Heritage Foods, L. Cole, Inc. dba Midwest Distributers, Lonn and Bev Richards and Paulene Greenhaw.