Washington County K-9s cut their teeth at Ridgeview
By Danielle Morin
Students at Ridgeview Elementary were surprised by some guest speakers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office last Thursday.
Sherriff Keith Sexton was accompanied by two new K-9 officers in training, Karma and Phoenix, along with their handlers, Deputy Sheriff Kenny Harless and Deputy Sheriff Michael Webb, respectively.
The German Shephard/Belgian Malinois mixed puppies were 4-month-old sisters on their first public appearance since being donated to the Sherriff’s office for police duty. The puppies visited the school as part of an assignment to get them socialized and acquainted with being around large groups of people.
The two K-9 officers will undergo one year of training specific to their assigned roles and will be eligible to receive their certifications between 18 months and 2 years. Sheriff Sexton explained, during a Q&A with Ashley Delavega’s sixth-grade class, that the dogs were assigned as “single purpose” dogs, meaning they will be responsible for performing only one specific duty rather than an array of tasks. In their case, they are being trained in narcotics seek-out skills to locate and isolate suspected illegal drug possession.
After leaving Delavega’s classroom, the dogs were led throughout the school’s halls and visited four additional classrooms – Krissi McInturff’s fourth-grade class, Breanna Justice’s preschool class, Hayley Hutson’s third-grade class, and Jennifer Fields’ preschool. The students in each class were first introduced to the officers and puppies before opening the floor for questions.
While the students were eager to learn about the dogs and their upcoming roles within the Sheriff’s office, the first question in every class was, not surprisingly, “Can we pet them!?”
As much of a treat as the visit was for the students, the new officer recruits were just as interested in showing off, playing, and interacting with the children. The Sheriff’s Office announced that this was only the first in many upcoming local public schools visits the K-9 officers will be making, and by the looks of it, they won’t have any issues enjoying and completing those assignments.