Monday, 17 December 2018
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Washington K9 handlers join foreign exchange with Slovakia

Dogs are used for police work in countries around the world. This summer, law enforcement officers from various departments in Western Washington visited the European country of Slovakia to see if they could pick up some ideas to improve safety back home.

Pierce County Deputy Theron Hardesty and fellow K9 trainer Deputy John Munson were part of the group that went overseas for the exchange program. Last year, members of the Slovakian National and City Police spent several days visiting departments in King and Pierce counties.

Munson said it was some of the best training he’s experienced in his career. The idea was to share ideas and training techniques and see how things are different there.

“They have big soccer stadiums and they get hooligans that show up and they create problems,” Munson explained. “Their dogs always wear a muzzle and they’re trained to strike a person in the face and it pretty much knocks a person out if they get hit just right.”

They don’t have the same concerns about gun violence there. In fact, most of the police officers in Slovakia don’t wear bulletproof vests, so they use their dogs differently.

“One thing I learned is we don’t do enough muzzle work with our dogs,” Hardesty explained. It wouldn’t be practical for K9s like their dogs Bruz and Hanz to wear their muzzles around town, but they might do more work with the muzzles during training to sharpen their skills.

“Just when you think you’ve seen the bulk of what can be done with police dogs, it just broadens your horizons and opens your mind,” Hardesty explained. “I can make that dog that much better or that team that much better.”

Both countries use similar breeds, but Slovakian dogs are not as friendly. “We can take our dogs to a kindergarten class all the way up to a retirement home,” Munson explained.

Private donations funded the trip, but it could pay off for the entire community by making the streets safer for everyone.

“It’s all a matter of control of your dogs. We have to show we have control of our dogs and this is a wonderful example. These people have wonderful control of their dogs because everything starts with obedience.”

© 2018 KING


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