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Congrats! Five K-9s graduate from Patrol and Tracking School in CNY

WARNERS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — They’re rookies fresh on the job.

“This is our patrol tracking course. This is where they learn their apprehension work, but that also includes simple obedience, the obstacle course, tracking, area searches, wooded area searches, and like I said, this is just the beginning,” Sergeant Jeff Neal, the Onondaga County Sherriff’s Office K-9 School lead instructor, said.

Now that they’re graduated, the K-9s will take on the streets.

“Any type of in-progress call, we have them with us. So, if it’s a burglary call or even a basic alarm, they’re with us, open doors, domestics, anything. Their main purpose is finding people,” Deputy Robert Renaud, a K-9 handler for the Onondaga Sherriff’s Office, said.

After a few months on a beat, the K-9s will return to training in the fall to declare their specialty in either narcotics or explosives. Some may think K-9s are primarily used for their teeth, but that’s not the case. A K-9s most valuable tool is their nose.

“98% of the time, we’re using them for their nose. We’re using them to find lost people or missing kids, to track through the distance, to search the woods, to search anywhere,” Sgt. Neal explained. “And that detection obviously using their nose to find drugs and explosives.”

Five new K-9s graduated from four departments. Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputy Renaud was with K-9 Ciro, and Deputy Radziewicz was with K-9 Arak.

Syracuse Police Department Officer Kittelberger was with K-9 Freddie, who is named after a longtime Syracuse Police handler who recently passed away.

Saratoga Springs Police Department Officer Aldrich was with K-9 Kongo, and Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Bean was with K-9 Ozzy.

“Most people think that these dogs are vicious. They’re not. They’re not at all. They are just dogs that are trained to a high level, and what they do out there is in their mind, they’re playing a game,” Sgt. Neal said. “If you ever noticed, if it’s done correctly, you’ll see their tail wagging because they think it’s a game. it’s not personal and it’s not vicious.”

And of course, it’s a whole different concept of “work colleague” when your colleague moves in with you.

“He comes to work with me every day, he lives with us. So, every call I go to, he’s with me and it just forms that special bond that we have, and a trust in a way to be able to have that back up in a sense no matter what, is definitely reassuring,” Dep. Renaud said.

This is Dep. Renaud’s second go around as a handler. His first K-9 was recently retired at nine years old, but he now “freelances” as a bomb dog at concerts. Now, Dep. Renaud is starting another journey with the vivacious and spirited Ciro.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work. You have a dog that is full of energy and ready to go at all times, but it’s an amazing bond,” Dep. Renaud said.

A four-legged colleague that is so much more than a partner.

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