German Shepherd puppy two families left at shelter was trained to be an explosives-detecting K-9 for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Peggy Wright, @PeggyWrightDR
MORRIS TOWNSHIP âÂ High-energy puppy Boomer faced a bleakÂ future when he was returned to the Parsippany Animal Shelter for the second time by another family unable to cope with his disobedience.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office found a way to harness the puppy’s energy, and today the German shepherd, Labrador retriever mix, is theÂ newest star of its K-9 unit. Freshly certified after 14 weeks of training, Boomer is now an explosives-sniffing specialist.
Life’s turnaround for Boomer, who is about 18 months old, was celebrated Wednesday by Sheriff James M. Gannon at the office’sÂ K-9 kennels and obstacle course in Morris Township.
Typically, dogs suitable for explosives training are obtained through vendors for $5,000 to $6,000 but Boomer was free, Gannon said.
“He was in the right place at the right time. It’s a great end to a tragic start,” said Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Aaron Tomasini, who supervises the 12-dog K-9 unit.
Boomer was named by his handler, Sheriff’s Officer Mike Carbone. But the dog first came to the attention of another sheriff’s officer who brought his son in October 2017 to the shelter to try to find a bearded dragon. A shelter worker suggested Boomer as a good candidate for the K-9 unit and the office took a chance on him.
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“Our purpose here today is to certify to you that this dog here, this K-9 member, is spectacular. A spectacular addition to the K-9 unit here in Morris County,” Gannon said as county officials, media and state Republican Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, (Boonton Township)Â observed. Bucco gave Boomer a bag of treats and a resolution from the Assembly.
“K-9 Boomer is a specialist in the detection of explosive material. In a changing world, with terrorism, in the shadow of New York City, things going on, we have real application,” Gannon said.
Boomer was certified by the office Tuesday as fully accomplished in his field. He went on his first callÂ Wednesday to sniff through a DenvilleÂ building alluded to in a suspicious wayÂ by a man, authorities said. Boomer found nothing amiss.
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The K-9 unit has responded annually to 350 toÂ 800 calls that include patrols, narcotics and explosives detection, missing persons,Â tracking suspects and ensuring sites for parades and festivals are clear of incendiary devices.Â As part of a regular routine, the dogs canvass county government buildings and the Morris County courthouse.
Tomasini called Boomer a special dog who couldn’t adapt to a family setting.
“He’s been surrendered twice to the Parsippany Animal Shelter,” Tomasini said.Â “Living inside a home and being a family house pet wasn’t necessarily what he was meant to be, so they gave us a call and fortunately we were able to harness all that energy that he has and be able to use that to protect the citizens of Morris County,” Tomasini said.
After 14 weeks of training, Boomer is able to sniff out 21 explosives-associated odorsÂ and their derivatives.
Boomer showed off his skills by nosing around a cluster of satchels and backpacks before he settled on a black bag that contained a tiny plastic baggie of the explosive HMX.Â Â
Carbone gave Boomer his reward – a rubber ball he greedily grabbed in his mouth. Then Boomer circled a Volkswagen used for training and rested by its trunk.Â Inside the trunk was a detonation cord. Again Boomer was given the rubber ball.
The dogs in the unit, which wear protective vests on dangerous assignments, usually work about 10 years before being retired. Boomer is young, with eight or nine years ahead in the unit, Tomasini said.
“The K-9 is a member of the (law enforcement) service just like the human,” Gannon said.
Staff Writer Peggy Wright: 973-267-1142; pwright@GannettNJ.com.Â
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