A new deputy has joined the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department: a German shorthaired pointer named Rip. After extensive training at a school in Alabama with his handler Deputy John Dutton, the two-year-old dog can now track and detect narcotics—a valuable tool for law enforcement.
The Lafayette County K9 unit is less than a year old and includes one other dog, another pointer named Luke. Luke has been on the job for eight months now, working alongside Deputy Dustin Black.
Despite Rip just joining the scene, he’s had a busy few weeks. He’s recently visited county schools, socializing with students while educating them on the K9 unit. Dutton, his handler, says Rip does very well with children. “Kids love him. He loves to be petted and get treats,” he said. “He’s very friendly, just as lovable as can be.”
A Dynamic Duo
Where Rip is affectionate, Luke is energetic. His handler, Black, joked that unless Luke is asleep, he’s fully wired.
“He’s just been like that since I’ve had him. He’s got to be doing something all the time,” Black said. Like any dog, though, Luke is motivated by treats. He loves biscuits from a gas station on the way home best. Black laughed, “If I get a biscuit, and he doesn’t, he gets his feelings hurt.”
On March 10, Rip and Luke met for the first time as they ran through narcotic detection drills. Both were able to quickly identify the barest trace of narcotics on an item touched by hands that handled a bag with the drug minutes before.
The bond between the dogs and their handlers is evident. Dutton and Black communicated with their K9s through a quick series of commands, with each dog keenly following their handlers’ movements and cues and alerting them once they located the narcotics.
Training doesn’t end with a K9’s certification. As single-purpose dogs—meaning they track people and detect drugs but don’t bite—Rip and Luke train for a minimum of 16 hours a month.
“Every Wednesday, we all meet up and train, sometimes with OPD, sometimes other agencies,” said Black. This continuous training keeps the dogs tuned into their specialized skills.
Rip and Luke have even begun putting their capabilities to work.
“Just last weekend, they worked a traffic stop and found drugs and a firearm,” Sheriff Joey East reported. “They’re paying some good dividends already.”
The Lafayette County Sheriff Department is glad to welcome Rip to the team. If you see Rip or Luke while they’re in the community, we hope you’ll say hello!