The Walker County Sheriff's Office now has enough K9 officers to cover all three shifts.
The Walker County Sheriff's Office now has enough narcotics K9s to cover all three shifts.
Deputy Jason Hare and Deputy Steve Legg and their four-legged partners, Cruz and Maverick, recently returned from a four-week training session at Central Alabama Police K9 Training Center.
While Legg has been waiting for such an opportunity, Hare is starting over again with a new partner after recently retiring his police K9 CeCo after 10 years of service at WCSO.
"It's like raising another kid. They become like family," Hare said.
The two join Investigator Josh Key and his partner, Cayne, in the department's K9 unit. Other K9 officers include Deputy Corey Emberg and his partner, Robbie, who is trained in tracking and apprehension, and Investigator Carl Carpenter and his partner, Carrie Beck, a six-month old bloodhound who is being used for public relations purposes and is training to one day conduct.
Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith acquired Cruz and Maverick, 15-month-old Belgian Malinoises, with discretionary funding. The department also assumes responsibility for expenses such as veterinary bills and food.
Before completing their narcotics training, the deputies and their new partners spent several weeks getting to know each other and acclimating to the work environment.
"We picked them up a month prior to going to school so the dogs could bond with us and we had to socialize them. They come to work with us every day and got to know our families because they stay at home with us," Legg said.
Hare, Legg and their K9s have already participated in several school searches. Legg and Maverick made an arrest on their second night on patrol together.
They came to the scene after another officer made a traffic stop and requested a K9 search, which resulted in the confiscation of approximately 3 grams of marijuana and 4 grams of meth.
Though Cruz and Maverick are as playful as any other puppy, they know when it's time to get to work.
"Mine gets excited. He starts jumping around when he sees me put my uniform on. Even my old K9 still gets excited," Hare said.