Via Lehigh Valley Live:
Law enforcement dogs and their handlers showed off special skills Sunday at the 2017 Lehigh Valley K-9 Trials in New Tripoli.
The competition, which took place at Thunderhead Farm, gathered law enforcement from across Northampton, Lehigh and Berks counties and an estimated 150 spectators. Dogs were tested through obstacle courses, narcotics detection, speed and other criteria.
There also was food, vendors and other activities on tap at the event. Proceeds benefited local law enforcement canine units.
K-9s often appear like any other dog, but police officials have said their training is what sets them apart. Patrol dogs can be trained in both “single purpose” and “dual purpose,” starting with backup, personal protection and tracking, as well as locating illegal drugs and explosives, according to dogsforlawenforcement.org.
Some police dogs follow commands in other languages since the pups typically come to the United States after being born overseas. The most widely trained dog for regular patrol work is the German Shepherd with other breeds including the Labrador Retriever, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd, according to Dogs For Law Enforcement.
Wilson Borough Police Chief Steven Parkansky said Sunday the department’s police dog, Rex, a Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherd mix—understands Dutch commands. The dog was born and raised in Holland, Parkansky said.
Dogs have been used by law enforcement agencies for more than a century. The English used bloodhounds while searching for Jack the Ripper in 1888, and during that time they allowed canines to accompany “bobbies” (police) on patrol, according to Dogs For Law Enforcement.
In 1899, in Ghent, Belgium, police began formally training dogs for police work. By 1910, Germany had police dogs in more than 600 of the country’s largest cities, according to the organization.
Police dogs can serve a department for several years.
Axel, a 10-year-old German shepherd with the Wilson Borough Police Department, died in 2012 from cancer after coming to the borough from Hungary for training in 2003. The dog was certified for service shortly after.