K-9 teams to compete in regional event

SMYRNA — With little or mostly no fanfare, K-9s and their handlers fulfill their prison security and detection duties every day.

“Our K-9s are force multipliers,” said Unit Staff Lt. Greg Dean, the Delaware Department of Correction’s statewide program manager. “They go through rigorous training, graduate highly skilled and provide safety for officers, the public and offenders as well.”

This weekend, however, is more for showing off just how competent the human-dog teams really are.

Six of the DOC’s 31 duos will compete in the 2019 United States Canine Association Region 6 Police Dog 1 Field Trials.

More than 30 teams overall are scheduled to attend, with several arriving from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Individual events include testing in agility, suspect and evidence search, criminal apprehension and obedience certification.

Based on scores from a USCA judging panel, K-9 teams can earn national certification and honors.

“It’s about pride,” said Sgt. Michael Malloy, who works inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. “It’s about the dog you trained, how well you’re bonded, how well you do things together.

“Everyone here will bring their ‘A’ game so you don’t want to come here with a dog you hope will do OK.”

Up and at ’em!

The public can attend Sunday’s criminal apprehension testing competition. The event begins at 8 a.m. at George C. Wright Jr. Municipal Park at 325 N. Main Street in Smyrna and should wrap up by early afternoon.

The DOC, which sent one team to last year’s competition, is hosting the event for the first time.
“It’s a compliment to our department that it is trusted to put on a good show and manage the event,” Sgt. Dean said. “There’s a lot of responsibilities that come with it and we’re glad to meet the standards that are required to have a successful competition for all who take part.”

Taking a nostalgic approach into the event, Sgt. Malloy doesn’t expect to win top honors with 9-year-old Jager, his partner since 2012.

“He’s up there in age and nearing retirement,” Sgt. Malloy said. “For me and him it’s mostly a tip of the hat on the way out,” Sgt. Malloy said.

For Correctional Officer Garrett Taylor, there’s an expectation for K-9 Sirius to intensify when called upon, whether during regular job duties or keeping up with other top-notch canines from out of state.

“He knows when the collar goes on it’s time to go to work,” said Ofc. Garrett, a Dover resident assigned to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

“He has a different sense of energy, a different look in his eyes.
“When he goes home afterward and the collar comes off he returns to being his lovable, playful self.”

Other correctional officer and K-9 teams include:
• Scott Nichols and Grim, JTVCC.
• Tom Bauerle and Hagen, JTVCC.
• David Sharp and Sledge, SCI.
• Chris Connelly and Remco, Special Operations Group.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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