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Training man’s best friend for law enforcement careers

  • Published
  • By Rhonda Griffin
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
They are known as man's best friend. Our four-legged canine pals can make the most faithful of pets. But with proper training, they can also become top law enforcement officers. 

Military working dogs are used for many purposes in both military and civilian environments, but their main job is detection, said Tech. Sgt. Jason Parrish, who oversees the canines and helps with training for the 43rd Security Forces Squadron.
"Our dogs are trained in either narcotics or explosives," Sergeant Parrish said. "They provide law enforcement, keep the base populace safe and help with base entry-point checks of random vehicles." 

The dogs of the 43rd SFS and their handlers are frequently deployed, with half of the teams currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sergeant Parrish said. 

In addition to working on base, the military working dogs assist locally with law enforcement issues, and are often called to work with the Secret Service, border patrol and at various airports. They also perform demonstrations throughout the community and work with local schools for special events such as Drug Week and police week, Sergeant Parrish said. 

The dogs are placed with a handler and trained in controlled aggression. They work as members of law enforcement for searches and, if a suspect is found, the canines use a "bite and hold" method to detain them. 

Though the military uses many various breeds of dogs, the majority of the canines with the the 43rd SFS are German Shepherds. 

"We get them through Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, when they are about 18 months old," Sergeant Parrish said. "They receive 120 days of training at Lackland before coming to Pope, where they are assigned to a handler and given another 45 to 60 days of training. The dogs are then certified in patrol work in either narcotics or explosives." 

Military working dogs average about an eight-year working life. After that time, many get to continue the bonds they have formed during their careers by being adopted by their handlers.