The Game Commission’s three K-9 dogs and their handlers.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is getting some good early returns from what is by far its furriest law enforcement initiative.
Last January, the commission acquired three Labrador puppies with the intent of restarting a lapsed K-9 unit. The dogs and their handlers were assigned to the agency’s special investigations division.
Each handler-dog team is responsible for one third of the state. Here in the west, conservation officer Larry Hergenroeder and Storm are to be called upon when needed.
The dogs underwent obedience training last May, and some work in evidence detection and human tracking in September. They exited winter with eight weeks of wildlife detection training still to do before being fully certified as law enforcement dogs.
But all three – including Gunner in the central part of the state and Skye in the east – have already assisted in investigations. They’d been “deployed” 35 times, all told, as of earlier this year.
Their work has involved finding spent shell casings fired by poachers and tracking would-be lawbreakers, said Tom Grohol, director of the bureau of wildlife protection.
“I think they’re a huge benefit to our law enforcement program,” he said.
They’re turning into pretty impressive public relations tools, too.
The commission has been posting stories of the dogs and their work on its Facebook page. That’s generated a big response, Grohol said. Some pages have reached nearly 185,000 people.
The commission has communicated with many of those people, Grohol said, explaining such things as what officers do and why.