Two K-9s join ranks of Hobart Police Department
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent March 7, 2013 3:52PM
Patrolman Ryan Snedecor works with his new K-9 partner, Spike, on a tracking exercise Feb. 15, 2013 at the Hobart Police Department training room in Hobart, Ind. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 2:07PM
The Hobart Police Department has added two new furry faces to its K-9 division: Spike, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois from Canada, and Scout, a 2-year-old jet black German shepherd from Burkheim, Germany.
They’re not on active duty as yet. They’re still getting to know their handlers — Spike’s is Officer Ryan Snedecor and Scout’s is Cpl. Simon Gresser — and just started official training March 1.
Spike replaces Fax, who retired at age 9, and Scout replaces Rommel, who had to be put down in November at age 111/2.
“Right now, we’re in a bonding stage. It’s like little kids with new toys,” said Gresser, who has been on the Hobart force for 13 years and in the K-9 department for 11 years.
But four to six weeks after training begins, the two pups will be ready for active duty as patrol/narcotics dogs, sniffing out drugs, tracking down criminals and the innocents who’ve become lost, and doing article and area searches.
Gresser said both dogs received some training before coming to Hobart, but are still “a little green.” In fact, Spike had traveled to several Middle Eastern countries, Africa and the United States with Baden Canine in Canada, where he was purchased from, to demonstrate what their dogs can do, Snedecor said.
Now that Gresser has become a master trainer, he said the training will be done in-house, mostly in a special room set aside for that purpose in the new police/court/community center building.
Gresser and Snedecor, who has been in the K-9 unit three years, have already started working with the dogs, doing some drug detection and looking for any limitations the dogs might have.
“We’re looking for any quirks or inconsistencies that we may need to shape up,” Gresser said.
He said Scout’s drug detection has come a long way and he has no problem with the elevators or escalators in the mall. As for Spike, nothing seems to bother the pup, Snedecor said.
One recent morning, Snedecor and Gresser worked with Spike on his drug detection skills. The Belgian Malinois first went through a series of boxes in search of an odor of a mixture of drugs, then on to two walls of holes, with one hole in each wall containing the odor of drugs. Each time, the dog easily found the source of smell and was awarded with a neon green tennis ball.
“That’s his paycheck — being told he’s a good boy and playing with a ball,” Gresser said.
In fact, the dogs do not cost the Hobart Police Department any money. Scout’s $9,000 and Spike’s $10,000 price tags were paid through fund-raising efforts and donations, Gresser said.
The dog food company Eukanuba provides all the dog food for free, Hobart Animal Clinic takes care of their veterinary needs and all the items in the training room were donated.
Gresser said the four officers currently in the K-9 department are always trying to raise money for the program. He said last year they raised $20,000 through such programs as the 100 Percent Club, in which people donate $100 and the K-9 teams, in turn, give 100 percent to the community.
The K-9 unit is planning to add another officer, Kevin Garber, and dog to its current four dog/handler teams by July.
“We need to come up with the funding first,” Gresser said.