Waterloo hosts K-9 training and certification for narcotics - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo hosts K-9 training and certification for narcotics

by Danielle Wagner

WATERLOO (KWWL) More than 60 dogs from Iowa and Nebraska are in Waterloo for K-9 training and certification. The event happens once a year. This year Waterloo won the bid to host.

The dogs are being certified in the detection of heroine, meth, cocaine and marijuana by their ability to search vehicles and rooms or buildings.

"The idea is to number one show the dog recognizes the odor. Number two that the dog is able to alert to the presence of the odor either by sitting or scratching, and third the handler then recognizes the dog's alert," said Melinda Ruopp with the U.S. Police K-9 Association.

Ruopp said there's a misconception drug dogs are addicted to drugs.

"That's the farthest thing from the truth. This is really a big game of hide and seek. The dogs have been familiarized with the odor. They have learned when they find that odor there's a reward and it's either food or a toy. Most cases it's a toy and so in their mind they're thinking I just want to find that smell because when I do I get a toy and I'm gonna get to play," she said. 

The dog and handler have a close relationship: working together and living together. Trainings put their bond to the test.

"This is to validate efforts put in by the handler and K-9 to show they've practiced, used it on the street and they're working as a team," said Greg Fangman with the Waterloo K-9 Unit.

Sniffing drugs is strenuous for the dogs. But their hard work makes officers' jobs easier.

"It's just a huge value to not only save time for us when searching, but in being able to find narcotics that would not have been found without the dog," said Ruopp.

The dogs are judged on a point system. Not all the dogs passed the certification test. That means a dog and handler must wait at least 30 days before getting re-tested. It's important to have this certification because the case holds up better in court.

The Waterloo Police Department has three dual purpose dogs... meaning the dogs are trained in protection and narcotics. The dogs go through 120 hours of training before hitting the streets, and train about four hours every nine days.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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