GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit visited Arbors at Gallipolis nursing and rehabilitation facility on Presidents Day to spread some enthusiasm and knowledge for what the office’s animal unit can accomplish.
Auxiliary Deputy Steve Heater is responsible for the training and care of canine unit and two-year-old German Shepherd, Bundy. Heater, Bundy and Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning visited the facility’s clients across all floors for those wishing to pet an animal which they may not normally have the opportunity to do.
According to Heater, he has been training dogs since he was 10 and runs the Pine Grove Kennel in Reedsville. Pine Grove Kennel is responsible for boarding for dogs, obedience training, narcotics scent training, patrol training, as well as preparing dogs for personal protection.
Heater told facility clients that Bundy is capable of running 30 mph and weighs almost 100 pounds. Bundy has learned to scent for narcotics, track suspects, do area searches as well as building and structure searches. Bundy has also been trained in suspect apprehension techniques. Bundy has been trained in the German language to avoid confusion when officers are trying to direct suspects and command the dog in the same time frame.
Heater said he orders his dogs from Germany before training for police use. He prefers training German shepherds as opposed to other police dog breeds because he regards the animal breed as a quick learner in comparison to other breeds. Other commonly used breeds by police are the Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd.
While being used for narcotics searches, Heater said it is not wise to mix the training of an explosives-scenting dog with that of a narcotics-scenting dog. The animals are trained to point at their target scent. It is necessary to be certain whether the dog is pointing at an explosive or a drug to determine whether or not a bomb squad needs called.
Heater said that the training of a law enforcement animal can typically take around 12 weeks.
German shepherds commonly live between nine to 13 years. Males can weigh an average of 60 to 100 pounds while females weigh around 50 to 70 pounds. The breed is used worldwide in disability assistance, rescue operations as well as military and police protocol.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.