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An inside look at the training of a police K9

UpNorthLive

CLARE COUNTY (WPBN/WGTU) -- Becoming a police officer is a process that requires hard work, dedication and lots of training. That goes for all police officers, whether they walk on two legs... or four.

When both the Traverse City Police Department and the Roscommon County Sheriff's Office announced they’d be adding a new k9 to their force, that was only the first step of the process. Before they can begin their jobs, they have to go through some training. Not only for the dogs, but also their future handlers.

“Drago’s a great dog. great dog," said patrolman Adam Verschaeve of the Traverse City Police Department, referring to his new K9. "He’s a very social dog but he really wants to work hard... He’s gonna be a great benefit to the city."”

Like Drago, Kato is another K9 in training, except he’ll be patrolling the streets of Roscommon County, with his handler Andrew O'Neil.

“Kato is very good at narcotics work," said O'Neil. "His tracking is phenomenal, his bite work's good too.”

So who’s responsible for training these pups? That would be Brian Gregory, who’s not only the owner of Northern Michigan K9, he’s also one of the owners of Cops and Doughnuts. Oh, and he's also the Police Chief for the City of Clare.

“I'm actually working two jobs," Gregory grinned. "It keeps me busy, but this is truly my passion.”

Gregory has been working with K9’s for more than 30 years, and feels strongly about the purpose they serve.

“I think they help save lives," he said. "They give police officers opportunities to stay one step ahead of who they’re looking for.”

While Drago and Kato continue their month long training, not only do they get closer to patrolling the streets, they also become closer with their new handlers.

“from the third of April when we got here, we’ve been together 24/7," said Verschaeve, "It's a bonding experience. He's with us at the hotel, he went with me home last weekend, we’re with each other the entire time now.”

Once training is done, Drago will come home and live with officer Verschaeve, his wife, and their young son. Who Verschaeve says is thrilled to welcome Drago to the family.

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