COLUMBUS, Ohio (WYTV) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSP) said that in the last year their new training program is saving money for tax payers.
Instead of buying dogs from contractors, the OSP is now buying and training the dogs themselves.
“The average contractor, who would take an officer and then take a K-9 and train them, charges anywhere from the $14-15,000 range for a K-9. Where as if we’re buying those dogs directly from the vendor, we’re getting those dogs at anywhere from $6,500 to $7,500,” said OSP Lt. Nathan Dickerson. “So you’re looking at about 50 percent in savings … So economically it made sense to do it and experience-wise it made sense to do it.”
There are currently 35 police dogs throughout Ohio, and the OSP is expecting to add one more this coming fall.
One new exercise they practice is called “reasonable force.” In this scenario, a suspect (played by a trooper) runs and the dog has to chase them down.
The dogs are used for more than tracking down suspects though, they can also help find drugs and help in searches to find missing people.
“There’s so many uses for the dog, everybody always thinks of the bite, but the dog is so much more utilized for much more than just that criminal aspect,” said OSP Trooper Erik Golias.
The dog and handler are put through an intensive 10-week training program, which is not always easy in the beginning.
“We reasonably think things through and we think the dog can think like we are. That’s not true. It thinks like a 2-year-old child, it can’t reason, it can’t do anything, so it’s a lot of slow repetition and working through it to build them up to that point,” said OSP Trooper Rick Caraway.
The typical career for a police dog lasts 7 to 8 years. Once they retire, almost all of the dogs are adopted by their handlers.
“It’s the best experience I can imagine, it’s like working with your children. Normal people have their pet, we treat them like a pet. The only difference is they come to work with us,” Caraway said.