Stick Up for the Paws: K9 Demonstration

by the Eagle Staff

With eager anticipation, the Lawrence County CTC was abuzz with excitement; today was the annual Stick Up for the Paws K9 Assembly!

The student body began the afternoon with a dodge ball tournament hosted by the LCCTC Peer Leaders, but once the championship was over, there was more excitement to come: It was time for the annual K9 demonstration.

Students first heard about the K9 program. “A dog and handler are the ultimate team. We train together; we bond,” states Officer Covert from the New Castle K9 Unit. Dogs form a relationship with their handlers and families. The dogs stay in the homes with their handler to create a bond beyond a partnership.

Officer Covert’s partner, “Aldo” is a German Shepherd from the Czech Republic. Aldo’s training consisted of obedience, tracking, criminal apprehension, crowd control, and more!

Yet another one of Aldo’s specialties includes narcotics detection. Officer Covert states, “With a sense of smell 700x stronger than that of a human, a trained K9 can be a vital part of the police force.” Able to detect illegal substances in any form including pill, liquid, or vapor, these dogs can be quite aggressive when they detect a drug. “It gives us reasonable cause to search,” Covert tells the assembly, “and that is a fact that can stand up in court!”

Officer Preisel assisted with the narcotics demonstration in front of the student body by hiding a vape inside of an envelope inside of a box. With his handler, Aldo passed by boxes one and two, but when he hit on box three, he began to paw and bite at the box indicating that there was an illegal substance inside. Aldo’s reward? His favorite rope tug!

“A dog can be pretty persuasive,” chuckled Sergeant McBride from the Ellwood City K9 Unit. That’s just one of the benefits of having a K9 to support the police department. The other: You can take your dog to work with you every day!

Dogs can tell the difference from one skin cell to the next. “I can toss a quarter into the grass,” McBride proudly touts, “and my partner, Ranger, can find it because of the human contact it encountered!”

Ranger may have a sweet face, but he is a force to be reckoned with; Officer Preisel helped with this demonstration as well. Acting as the “bad guy,” Preisel slipped on the protective sleeve and braced for Ranger’s impact. Ranger scooted across the floor and latched on to his target; obedient above all else, when Sergeant McBride gave the command, Ranger let go and backed away. Ranger’s prize: the sleeve — but be sure he kept a good, solid eye on the “perpetrator” during the pat-down. As soon as Preisel moved to “escape,” Ranger was ready to step in to do his job and protect his human.

Officer Preisel didn’t steal all of the fun; at the end of the assembly, three of our own were willing to be part of the demonstration. Much to the delight of the crowd, Mr. Rich invited the students to exercise their votes for Aldo to “take a bite out of a teacher!” Mr. Orelli and Mr. Ovial received a few polite cheers, but the winner of the “Bite the Teacher” vote was Phys-Ed teacher, Mr. Simon, with an enthusiastic roar! All watched as Preisel coached Simon prior to the attack. As Aldo barked in agitated excitement, you could almost see the beads of nervous sweat form on Simon’s brow. Finally, with a quick command from Officer Covert, Aldo thundered across the gym floor. He accosted his target and latched on for the next few moments. With a quick command, Aldo obediently released and backed down.

Let’s just say that it’s quite likely that Preisel and Simon might be a little sore tomorrow.

Having K9 departments take plenty of commitment with training. For a solid three-months, the canine and handler train together. After that, there is additional training — at the very least, one time a month but often, more.

K9 partnerships can be costly, as well. Lawrence County police departments have benefited from the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, but additional funds help continue these vital K9 programs, as well.

LCCTC is proud to present the Lawrence County K-9 Units with a monetary gift. In all, proceeds from the Stick Up for the Paws Dodgeball Tournament sponsored by Peer Leadership brought in $100. Our Vet Assistance shop raised $600 from Dog Days Grooming as they groomed almost one hundred fur babies from staff, students and community members. An additional $100 was raised in a collection during the Stick Up for the Paws assembly.

LCCTC would like to thank the Lawrence County Police Departments — especially the K9 units — for all they do to keep us safe! We hope to continue to make this an annual event, including even more departments in the county!