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County plans as K-9 Perces nearing retirement

County plans as K-9 Perces nearing retirement County plans as K-9 Perces nearing retirement

The prospect of retiring a K-9 unit working with Taylor County Law Enforcement was discussed at the Taylor County Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Committee’s meeting on February 14.

The current K-9 unit dog is Perces, an approximately nine year old Malinois. Malinoises are known for their high intelligence and extreme energy levels, and are used by such agencies as the Secret Service to protect the White House.

Perces has had medical issues in the past, and with his old age is in danger of injuring himself. He suffers from stomach issues that the police are currently working through, but more detrimental is a tendon in his rear left leg.

“The tendon rides outside of the groove that it normally sits in,” explained Taylor County deputy Eric Peterson, the K-9 officer in charge of handling Perces. “It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it’s incredibly painful for him.”

“The thing about these dogs is that they’ll act like they’re one until they are ten,” Peterson went on to say. “He will always want to run, and jump, and work as hard as he did when he was a puppy. He will always have that drive. But the chance of him injuring himself and of that injury being something he can’t recover from goes up dramatically after about nine years of age.”

Peterson also pointed out that, in Perces’s encroaching age, it doesn’t even have to be serious maneuvering that could cause the injury: “It could be something as simple as him jumping up into the truck... If that tendon separates, his leg is going to be useless. They can’t reattach a dog’s tendon and have him in any sort of working life after that.”

Peterson outlined how essential having a healthy police dog is in keeping him and other officers safe.

“He can see in the dark better and his sense of smell is 10,000 times more powerful than ours.”

Peterson carries with him a button that can remotely open the rear door on the passenger side of his truck. When pressed, it releases the latch and the door is pushed open by a magnetic mechanism. With that, Perces will exit the vehicle, visually looking for Peterson. If Perces can’t see him, he will track him down through scent and come to Peterson’s aid.

In an attempt to keep Perces functional, Peterson worked with a university hospital in Minnesota to develop a stretching routine which he performs on Perces for about an hour every day. The routine keeps Perces limber, but he’s never going to be 100% better.

The surgery that doctors could perform on Perces is incredibly expensive, and there’s no guarantee that it would help. In fact, there’s a chance it could make the problem worse rather than better.

“I don’t want him to be so severely injured that he has to be put down because it’s unrecoverable... I’d like him to be able to retire and still have a bit of life afterwards,” Peterson summarized on Perces.

With Perces’s retirement, a new K-9 unit will need to be brought to the department.

Perces’s replacement won’t come cheap though: the price for a police dog is in the range of $17,000. Various ideas to help raise money were discussed, including the possibility of a cop-cookout during the summer where officers could grill food for the public, with donations going to the acquisition of the new police dog.

K-9 dogs have to be properly trained from an early age, and can’t become offi cial police dogs until they are around three years of age.

“Their teeth don’t really cement into their skulls until they’re nearly two years old,” said Peterson. “If you’re training a dog for protection, apprehension, and bite work, you can do a lot of damage and actually tear teeth out if you start hard training before they reach that almost two year age time.”

The new K-9 unit will be responsible for the same duties that Perces currently is.

This includes drug searches at traffic stops, schools, jails and prisons.

Locating lost people and criminal apprehension are also both large parts of the K-9 unit’s responsibilities.

Other items discussed during the committee’s meeting included: Ambulance Business

The old DNR building has been renovated in order to house ambulances, Medford No. 1 and Medford No. 2, along with an office to be used at separate times by the three full-time EMTs.

Two medevac staff will also be living in the renovated building 24-hours a day, with full bedroom, kitchen, and livingroom space available to them.

There is additional sleeping room for outside help.

The move is being made in hopes to make the emergency medical team more cohesive.

Emergency government

Taylor County Hazard Mitigation Plan is currently being finalized. A public hearing date is TBD, likely sometime in March or April.

The January 17 blood drive was a success, with 32 participants checking in resulting in 27 units of blood being collected, which can impact up to 81 lives.

A grant was received from Enbridge for $1,681 to fund two Stop The Bleed training kits to aid in trauma training sessions that will be offered free of charge to businesses, organizations, and schools within Taylor County. The first Stop The Bleed training session will be held at the Gilman School District on February 28.

The grant money will also be used to obtain high-visibility safety vests and flashlights for Taylor County first responders.

The recently installed emergency sirens haven’t been working as they should be, with the program they run on to be updated soon.

Sheriff’s Report

The jail is two correctional officers short, with applications currently being accepted.

The population of the jail is 49 inmates.

Applications of Taylor County deputies are also being accepted. The last batch of applicants saw one deputy added to the force.

The possibility of a program called Citizens’ Academy being restarted was discussed. Years ago the program was in place but was canceled, and now may come back.

The program allows citizens to go through a miniature police academy instructed by an officer, in order to gain an inside view on how a deputy is trained and operates investigations. This will come in addition to their shadowing program, which allows high school seniors interested in joining law enforcement to go along with an on-duty officer.

Deputy Eric Peterson told members of the law enforcement committee that it is time to begin planning for replacement of the county K--9 officer Perces.