About 17 K-9 units from around the Northwest are taking part in a three-day seminar in Kirkland this week by the Washington State Police Canine Association, and on Tuesday many participated in a seminar for bomb units.
The and Kirkland Police Department co-hosted the seminar, which is taking place through Wednesday at in Redmond and in Kirkland.
John Munson of the Pierce County Sheriff’s office and the WSPCA said participating were K-9 units from as far away as Victoria, B.C. They included units from the Kirkland, Redmond and Bellingham police departments, the King County Sheriff’s office, the Port of Seattle, the federal Department of Energy and the Boeing Co.
“It’s an opportunity for dog handlers from around the state to get together, train together and meet,” he said. “This is actually an all-classroom seminar. We set up a one-day session today for bomb dogs.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the WSPCA set up a demonstration for the media, with Bellingham police officer Shan Hanon and his Belgian Malinois shepherd Celina performing a mock search of a plywood structure.
Led and prompted by Hanon, Celina probed several holes in the structure with her nose, finally locating the target scent and adopting a point-like position known as “conditioned freeze response.”
Redmond Police Officer Sam Hovenden is the department's only K-9 handler and said his dog Vader has come through on a number of incidents since the K-9 joined the department in 2008. A couple of weeks ago on a call to assist the Kirkland Police Department, Hovenden said Vader helped police officers locate four burglary suspects who were hiding in a closet.
Vader is also called on to help officers locate fleeing suspects or find drugs in homes and vehicles. Almost every night, the dog performs a search, but some shifts are busier than others.
"It comes and goes in waves," Hovenden said.
Check out our photo gallery and video here for more on the K-9 training program.