SIDNEY — The youngest member of the Sidney Police Department was formally introduced Wednesday evening at the police department.
K-9 Kilo, who is a 15-month-old German Shepherd, and his handler Officer Jim Jennings have been partners since Feb. 1 when Kilo arrived from Germany. The two went through training at Von Der Haus Gill German Shepherds Inc., which is owned by Al Gill, of Wapakoneta.
“We spent a month of bonding,” said Jennings. “There was no discipline during that time. It was like having a small child in the house.”
Kilo, who lives with the Jennings family, has his own room and a cage inside the room. One day, said Jennings, Kilo was in the cage while the family was away.
Kilo was able to pull open the cage, said Jennings. The dog then opened the door to the room and “ate our couch.”
“It was pure chaos,” said Jennings. “There was foam everywhere. I called my wife and she said, ‘he’s a puppy. Take him for a run.’”
Kilo has also developed a taste for TV remote changers — he’s destroyed two of those. And the indestructible dog toys — Kilo finds a way to demolish those as well. “It was gone in two hours,” said Jennings.
During the six weeks of training at Von Der Haus Gill German Shepherds, the pair were involved in all-day training, which also included training after dark. Jennings uses German to issue commands to tell Kilo what needs to be done.
“His bloodline is bred for police and military use,” said Jennings. “His (toy) ball drive is so strong. His goal is to get a reward.”
And that reward, he said, is to be given the ball to play with.
“There’s not a lot of discipline involved,” said Jennings. “Training is the key. You have to praise them like you do a child.”
Kilo is trained to detect narcotics, apprehend suspects and track individuals. The tracking, said Jennings, can be used to find small children or people with Alzheimer’s who have wandered off. Kilo was called in for a track in Anna following the robbery of the market there.
If Kilo is in tracking mode, said Jennings, he will go around the area to find the last fresh scent of the person he is looking for.
“Everyday we do training,” said Jennings. “He is trained to be a passive alert K-9. If he finds drugs, he will sit by the drugs.”
Since Kilo has joined the department, he has been called out 15 times. He has had 14 alerts were he detected drugs. The K-9 has found numerous drugs and also $1,000 in cash.
“I use him almost daily,” said Jennings. “If a K-9 alerts, then a person can’t say no to a search of a vehicle.”
Kilo, he said, is able to find drugs in vehicle and also on people.
“If he alerts for something, then there is something there,” said Jennings. “Once there’s the alert, the car can be searched. People put the drugs where I can’t look. But he (Kilo) can find it.”
If the dog alerts to a person, said Jennings, that usually means the person has hidden the drug in a body cavity. The person is transported to Wilson Health and they wait for a search warrant.
“We transport them to Wilson because we’re dealing with something that can kill them or they can overdose on,” said Jennings.
“When a person hides drugs in a body cavity, it heats it up,” he said, making it easier for Kilo to detect the drugs.
“If I stop a car that’s a known drug dealer, I’ll bring the dog out,” said Jennings.
While Kilo is trained to find drugs, he is not trained to find explosives.
“Dogs who are trained in explosives have a totally different training than drug training,” said Jennings.
Kilo joins K-9 Duke on the force. Duke’s handler is Officer Rodney Robbins. Duke has been with the department for approximately six years.
Police Chief Will Balling said with the increase of drug activity in the city, he felt the addition of a second K-9 on the force was a move they needed to make.
“The concept of battling heroin and drugs is something we deal with like any other town,” said Balling. “It is causing harm to our citizens. In the law enforcement process, a K-9’s smell is amazing.
“We currently have a dog (K-9 Duke) on the third shift and I wanted another one working on the day shift. Getting a K-9 is an expensive process. We have $16,000 invested in the K-9 and its handler. The training is intensive. We want to stop the spread of heroin in Sidney,” said Balling.
“Every time Kilo goes out, he potentially saving a life,” said Balling.
All K-9s are recertified annually, said Balling. Most K-9s can serve their communities up to 10 years.
“Germany is the only place that will guarantee a dog’s hips,” said Jennings. “When he was six weeks old, Kilo was taught to bite burlap. When he was 1 year old, he was taught to release and do a cloth bite.”
Kilo has three different collars he uses while on duty. One collar is for aggressive work. Another collar is for tracking. The third collar is for searching for drugs.
And if someone tries to harm a K-9, the person will face criminal charges.
“If someone shoots a police dog, it’s a felony of the fifth degree,” said Balling. “They’re going to face prison time.”
Jennings has been with the Sidney Police Department for 18 years. He works the split shift of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I put in to be a handler for the last K-9,” said Jennings. “I’ve wanted to do this for several years.”
While Kilo is protecting the citizens of Sidney, he is also providing protection for his handler.
“I feel more comfortable with him behind me,” said Jennings. “If he’s in the vehicle when I make a stop, I can push a button which opens the door and he’ll be right beside me. He constantly watches me to see where I’m going.”
Jennings’s wife, Amy, said she was excited to welcome Kilo to their family. She knew her husband would be an excellent handler for the department’s newest K-9.
“It’s like having a two-year-old in the house,” she said. “If he (husband) leaves the room, Kilo won’t listen to our commands.”
Donors for the purchase of Kilo were Shelby County AAA, Hubbard Feeds from Botkins, Shelby County United Way, Walmart, Cargill and Wilson Health.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.