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The skills of 40 police dogs and their handlers from Iowa and Minnesota will be on display next week at West Des Moines’ Valley Stadium.
The city will host a regional certification of the United States Police Canine Association from Monday through Wednesday, during which dogs will compete for top honors in obedience, agility and suspect apprehension events.
Representing West Des Moines will be K-9 Rony and Officer Brent Kock.
“He’s doing stuff well right now,” Kock said of Rony. “But dogs have bad days, just like humans, just like you see in the Olympics. They could be a world champion one day and then go out the next and screw something up.”
Kock and Rony, who will be 6 years old in September, have been partners since February 2004. They’ll spend the rest of this week working on the six competition events, which include:
- Obedience. Officers will demonstrate the amount of control they have over the dogs. “People have these preconceived notions about police dogs, that they’re beasts,” Kock said. “It’s good to be able to show people the control that the officers have over the dogs and what the dogs are capable of.”
- Agility. Dogs will maneuver through several obstacles that will force them to hurdle short objects, jump about six feet, crawl, jump, and climb a fence and a ladder.
- Article search. Dogs must scour a 30-by-30-foot patch of grass that has two objects they must retrieve, such as a keychain, an identification card, a gun or a screwdriver.
- Suspect location. People will hide in one of six tall boxes, and the dogs have three minutes to find them. This event will not be held at the stadium.
- Criminal apprehension. Also referred to as “bite work,” this event is divided in two phases: one with gunfire and one without. “That’s the most exciting one,” Kock said. “It’ll be down in Valley Stadium, and people can come and watch.”
There is no cost to attend.
“West Des Moines hosted something like this about two years ago, but it was narcotics training, and they didn’t want members of the public there,” Lt. Jeff Miller said. “This time, they want people to show up.”
Kock and Rony will compete on a team with Des Moines because each team is made of four dogs and their handlers. Trophies are awarded for the top three teams, the top dog overall, the top rookie dog and the top three places for each event.