By Jeff Noble/Staff Writer
Three new employees have joined the ranks in Williamsburg and Whitley County. They won’t need uniforms, but these four-legged friends are definitely trained, tested and tough at their jobs.
They’re bomb-sniffing dogs that served in Afghanistan as part of an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED Unit. After their tours of duty, they returned to America to be paired up with law enforcement agencies.
All three canine cops are black Labrador retrievers.
Two of them are four years old, while the third is five years of age. And two of them — a male named Raz and a female named Lee — work for the Williamsburg Police Department, while the other one — Madi, a female — has joined the Whitley County Jailer’s Office.
All three reported for duty Friday.
“These dogs have saved lives and several thousand persons in Afghanistan. They cost the Jailer’s Office and Williamsburg Police nothing. If we get one call about a bomb threat, and find a bomb, it’s worth it,” Whitley County Jailer Ken Mobley said Friday afternoon.
Madi, Raz and Lee made an appearance together at the Whitley County Detention Center in Williamsburg, along with their handlers. Two Jailer’s Office personnel look after Madi — Major Steve Lundy and Captain Josh King. The other two dogs are taken care of by two Williamsburg Police officers — Raz by K9 Officer Brandon Prewitt, and Lee by K9 Officer Jason Strunk.
All three Labs are AKC (American Kennel Club) registered dogs, and have a microchip in them, the result of their previous missions overseas in the war against terrorism.
“They’re very well-trained. These dogs were all paired up overseas with a Marine, or with anyone who had a need. After their tour of duty, they went to America where they’re trained for law enforcement work here in the states, and are paired out to police agencies. The dogs are trained to be off a leash, which is important when they’re sniffing for possible bombs in a building or outdoor location,” said Madi’s handler, Maj. Lundy.
Mobley said his office found out about the dogs from Williamsburg’s Police Chief, Wayne Bird. Bird found out through an email from the U.S. Marine Corps that the dogs were available. Raz, Lee and Madi came from a company that trains the dogs, K9 Solutions of Southern Pines, N.C.
Both Bird and Mobley pointed out $30,000 was invested in training for each dog, before they’re paired out to law enforcement. Lundy, King, Prewitt and Strunk went to North Carolina earlier this week to train with the three dogs, and brought them back to Williamsburg Thursday.
Chief Bird noted his department has been looking for a bomb dog for quite some time.
“We don’t have many bomb threats, but if we do, we have the dogs available. It’s absolutely amazing to watch these dogs work. In my eyes, what those dogs did overseas with the military (make them) heroes,” he said.