Lenoir police dogs to the rescue

Apr. 08, 2014 @ 01:39 PM

The Lenoir Police Department expects the best from the best, and that goes for its K9 German shepherds as well. Mato, Nero and Cerik are all from bloodlines bred overseas.

Sgt. Brett Ingram, a former K9 officer said, “Because our dogs are jumping in tractor-trailers, going through windows and doing all they do, we have to have (dogs with) the best joints we get can, the best everything we can get, and the dogs from overseas tend to be a bit better, especially when you’re paying as much money as we are.”

Mato, Cerik and Nero work as hard and long as their officers, but they work for the praise of their handler and, of course, a toy.

“The dog is an asset,” Ingram said. “If you’re hauling drugs in your car, and a police officer asks can he search it, what are you going to tell him? You tell him no. With the dog, we don’t have to ask permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the air around your vehicle is not yours, and we can use the dog to smell it. If the dog gives the indication for the odor of narcotics, then we can search the vehicle. We find money. We find drugs. We find guns. We’re taking all of that off the street.”

Recently, Ingram’s German shepherd retired, and Ingram was promoted.

Replacing them were Officer Justin Reed and a new dog, Mato, purchased for $8,500.

“When we look at a dog, like when we were looking for Reed’s dog, it’s just like testing cars,” Ingram said. “You’re trying to find that car that fits you, and you fit it. Same thing when we do dogs. We look at the handler. We look at the dogs, and you try to pick a good pick, because everybody’s different.”

Ingram said that Mato was chosen because he was able to track, showed tenacity in searching for hard-to-find targets, handled slick floors and was not afraid of climbing stairs that he could see through.

When a new dog comes in, Ingram calls for a trainer to come out to administer a test. The dog must go through tracking, narcotics, obedience, work, apprehension and article search tests. The process takes the entire workday.

“You either pass or fail. You can’t say, ‘My dog made a 70. All right!’ There’s no in-between. Your dog either does it or he doesn’t,” Ingram said.

Mato, Nero and Cerick train every Thursday.

Ingram said he misses being in the K9 unit, and his retired dog, Casper, misses it even more because the dogs “live to work.”

“When we get in the car to come to work, they cry if we don’t bring them,” Ingram said. “If you get in your patrol car, and they hear it crank up, they might not be able to see it, but they can hear it, even if they’re in the backyard in the kennel.”

Ingram said that as much as Casper and the other dogs love to work by tracking down the bad guys, they also love to hang out and visit kids at the local schools.

“People always ask me, ‘What’s the greatest thing your dog ever did?’” Ingram said. “Everybody wants to hear about we tracked this bad guy down or he did this, this and this. The greatest thing my dog ever did was find four lost kids in the woods. To me, that was better than finding all the dope in the world. That’s priceless.”