SCSO hosts canine seminar

Canine trainers from police and sheriff’s departments across Alabama convened Monday at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Training Center in Columbiana for an Alabama Law Enforcement Canine Association training seminar.

The trainers, accompanied by their respective dogs, trained in the areas of patrolling, explosives detection and narcotics detection, said Deputy Allan Morgan of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office’s Patrol Division/K9 Unit.

ALECA was founded six months ago to unite the state’s law enforcement agencies, and establish a working standard among all canine trainers. Morgan said there is no one method in police dog training, and ALECA emphasizes the safe execution of preferred training techniques.

“We’re not here to say, ‘You should do it like this,’ said Morgan, who also serves as ALECA’s treasurer. “Every dog is different. If you got 10 trainers, each one is going to tell you something different.”

Five hands-on training stations were set up along McDow Road and Alabama Highway 70 for the seminar. Falco, the canine partner of Officer Shane Mahaffey of the Oxford Police Department, sniffed for remnants of black powder, an explosive, at one station while narcotics dogs sniffed for dope hides at another station.

The on-site training was coupled with presentations on canine first aid, case law and canine nutrition.

Rebekah Ritchey of Nutro Pet Food spoke to trainers about quality pet food improving a police dog’s performance. Ritchey suggested controlled growth formula pet foods to care for a police dog’s joints and muscles.

A police dog’s dental health is also vital to performance, Ritchey said. Trainers received a free Greenie dental treat for their dog. Ritchey said good dental health can extend a dog’s life by two years.

“It’s like a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss all in one,” Ritchey said of the treat. “It gets between the grooves in the teeth and removes bacteria and tartar, which can lead to kidney and heart failure.”

ALECA will meet again next month. The location is to be announced.