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Spike is Garfield County Sheriff’s Office newest K-9 team member and is replacing an older officer.
The nearly 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, purchased a few months ago from Sooner State Police K9s, will replace semi-retired K-9 Officer Arco.
Spike’s handler, Deputy Logan Niles, said his new partner is trained in narcotics detection, handler protection, criminal apprehension and tracking.
The Marshfield Police Department has begun the new year with a new dog.
Gunnee, who joined the department about a year ago as its newest K-9, was forced into early retirement because of an unwillingness to respond to training and various police work, which could put officers and the dog at risk.
Arco, a male Dutch Shepherd, has replaced Gunnee and after training will begin working with K-9 officer Scott Schlei in the coming weeks.
“I’ve heard where something happens and something traumatic happens (and the dog responds), but nothing like that happened,” Schlei said regarding Gunnee’s issues.
Gunnee, a male Belgian Malinois, worked well while searching for drugs or training in rescue situations, Schlei said. But during bite work or apprehension training, he began to be timid during the summer.
“It was like he didn’t have the attitude or the courage to do it,” Schlei said. “Where Dora (Schlei’s first K-9, who retired last year), when I called on her and needed her, she was there.”
Luckily for the department, the city and Gunnee, the Indiana-based Vohn Liche Kennels where he and Dora trained took Gunnee back and provided Arco at no cost despite an expired warranty.
“We’re at a loss of what happened,” said police chief Joe Stroik, who has never seen a K-9 not want to work.
Schlei spent several weeks training with Arco in Indiana before bringing him to Marshfield.
For Schlei, having to return Gunnee wasn’t easy. The dogs become partners and companions of K-9 officers, and seeing him not responding to training was difficult.
Why he begun struggling with work remains a mystery for Schlei.
Gunnee, though, most likely will continue to work as a search and rescue or drug-sniffing dog in a nonpolice setting, Schlei said.
Schlei said his new partner is going to be a good fit for the city. Arco is social and good with people. On the job, Arco has a natural instinct for handling any situation.
“Arco reminds me of Dora in ways,” Schlei said. “When it was time to get into a new environment, there was no hesitation, and Arco is the same way.”
By Jake Miller
Just before midnight Thursday, Alexandria Police Cpl. Keith Mouliere picked up the radio in his patrol car and said, “K-9 P number 1571 is 10-7 for the remainder.”
That was the last time Mouliere will say that as Arco, his K-9 partner, retired at the end of his shift Thursday.
“He is a special dog,” Mouliere said. “It is going to be hard when I leave for work and he doesn’t come with me.”
Arco, though, will be living the life of luxury in retirement. He’ll continue to stay with Mouliere and his family. Mouliere’s wife, Robin, “just adores” Arco and is very attached to him, he said.
Mouliere has been with the department for nearly 11 years while Arco had more than eight years of service with the department. The two were partners Arco’s entire career with the department.
“We have been talking about Arco’s retirement for a while,” Mouliere said. “For us, Arco becomes our dog. The department retires the dog to the handler, and you take on the full responsibilities of them. And I’m going to see to it that he gets the easy life, a lot of good foods, that he plays when he wants to play and sleeps when he wants to sleep. He’ll come in the house and be a lap dog.”
Mouliere is in the process of getting a new K-9. He’ll be gone for three weeks of training and then be back out patrolling with his new partner, Bari.
“I’m hoping he can live up to the standard Arco set,” he said. “But that’s a pretty high bar. He has had the most apprehensions of any dog in the city of Alexandria. He’s caught 35 bad guys by himself. Arco has also found several hundreds of thousands of dollars in drugs during searches. He is a very worthwhile investment.”
Changing from Arco to Bari is a challenge Mouliere is looking forward to, but it certainly brings about some anxiety, too.
“Getting rid of one partner and replacing him with another is gut-wrenching,” he said. “At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. I wondered if he would have the same personality, if we would make a good team and how things would go. I decided I owed it to the department to go out and be the officer I could be, and this is what I am good at.”
Arco is a friendly dog, one that was well-loved at the department. Mouliere said that when he called the dog “10-17″ — out of service — for the final time, a fellow officer got on the radio and said, “Bye, Arco.” He said there are requests — ones that he plans to fulfill — for Arco to come back to visit the department.
“He’ll miss it, but he was getting up in age,” Mouliere said. “I know it will be hard for him when I take the other dog and he has to stay home. He loved what he did, he loved working. And he was a real social dog.”
Arco had learned several tricks in his tenure at the department like opening the car door himself. Groups would even ask for the duo by name when requesting K-9 demonstrations.
“He’s kind of a celebrity figure,” Mouliere said. “And Arco is quite the ladies’ man; he loves the girls.”
But on the job he was focused.
“Arco’s always been there for me,” Mouliere said. “He’s probably on several occasions kept me from getting hurt and made the bad guy think twice about doing something out of line. Dogs offer an element you can’t get anywhere else. Since I’ve been a police officer, I’ve had to bury three of my friends for different reasons. Dogs provide another tool to help keep police officers safe.
“We can search without noise or without flashlights. And we can put a dog in through the window of a building, and he can tell me within two minutes without a doubt if someone is hiding in there waiting to a get a police officer, while it would take two officers 10 minutes to search a house following proper procedure.”
When it comes to law enforcement, Hattiesburg native Chris Cook has one motto: No one should serve unprotected.
Not even police dogs.
Cook, 30, a barber, has started a non-profit organization to raise money to buy bullet-proof vests for Pine Belt police departments’ K-9s.
When he learned that the Hattiesburg Police Department’s police dogs needed vests, Cook said he created Operation: Kover Our K-9s.
Cook said the idea for the organization stemmed after he attended a K-9 competition with a friend, who also is a Hattiesburg Police Department K-9 officer.
“I’m an animal lover anyway,” Cook said. “Just seeing his working relationship with his dog made me want to do something to help the dogs.”
Cook said his goal is to raise about $10,000 to buy vests for HPD and Lamar County Sheriff Department police dogs. The departments combine have about 13 police dogs.
Since his organization was started in February, Cook said he has raised about $1,500.
Vests for police dogs cost about $1,000 each, he added.
He is hoping to raise more money at an October benefit he’s hosting to support the dogs.
“We’re hoping by the end of October to be able to provide some things,” he said, adding that he also wants to provide other equipment for the departments.
Cook said funding also will be used to buy heat alert systems for officers’ patrol cars. He said the systems are programmed to alert K-9 officers when their cars become overheated inside.
Hattiesburg police spokesman Synarus Green said the department is thankful for Cook’s efforts. Green said Cook’s generosity will allow the department to take funding allocated for vests and use it for other K-9 related training.
“We’re always grateful when someone wants to give a contribution to the police department,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of events where we send our (K-9s) into high-risk situations – which is a good thing. When those opportunities do present themselves, having the equipment available to us – it’s very helpful.”
Lamar County K-9 Sgt. Brad Weathers also commended Cook for his efforts.
“I think it’s great,” Weathers said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the community since we got our first dog.”
He said the vests will provide added support to the dogs, who are depended upon heavily.
“The vests are so expensive; they’re hard to come by,” he said.
“The K-9s offer so much support to the community, it’s nice to see the citizens wanting to take care of them. They’re certified just like the deputies and police officers.”