Police dogs often have a sixth sense on the job that officers don’t have. Senior K-9, Mattis, has done many things with Oxford Police Department K-9 Officer Alex Moffett recently, including finding a 3-year-old child and two elderly people with Alzheimer’s and bringing them back to safety.
“From an enforcement side of things, I think it is outstanding that a dog is able to recognize and locate narcotics, and I think the biggest asset to our community is their tracking ability,” Moffett said.
He said the police department usually gets the K-9 dogs when they are only a year old and know basic commands. Then, the dog and officer go through training for extensive commands.
“When it comes to narcotics they go through what we call imprinting, so they are trained to recognize that odor and sit on it,” Moffett said. “Dogs noses are a thousand times stronger than ours.”
According to Canidae website, a tracking dog is able to smell scents up to 40 feet buried underground.
“We can smell something like a cheeseburger, but (the K-9) can depict each part of that cheeseburger,” Moffett said.
Even though these dogs are trained to be disciplined and exert force when needed, they still love to play like any other dog.
Mattis looks forward to getting the job done and then getting to play with his favorite toy, a tennis ball, Moffett said.
“Dogs, in general, are very loyal, obedient and smart too,” Beth Crump, a veterinarian at Paws Animal Hospital said. “Most dogs are easily trainable and the dogs they pick to work for police departments are more trainable for really focused tasks.”
Both Crump and Moffett just want people to know that you should never approach a dog you do not know without asking permission first.
“All we ask is that you ask first before you pet, usually it doesn’t matter, but better safe than sorry,” Moffett said. “We do have some dogs that just don’t like to be pet, but usually it isn’t a problem.”