By Shelby Horton
On Sept. 24, Kansas Highway Patrol came to the Hutchinson Community College campus with a drug dog and patrol dog.
Officer Scott Walker and Officer Justin Rohr came to the HCC campus to demonstrate and teach students about the training and skills their dogs undergo.
They began the demonstration by showing HCC students a cotton ball with one drop of marijuana extract on it.
They hid the cotton ball in the residence’s courtyard then released the drug dog, a German shepherd, to find the drug scent.
Within 40 seconds, the drug dog had found the scented cotton ball and waited for an officer to retrieve the cotton ball.
Drug dogs are able to find four different types of illegal drugs.
Some dogs are able to smell alcohol, but are not used often since it’s a legal substance.
“It takes one to two years to train one of these dogs,” said Walker. “After they complete training, they still train three times a week.”
Most of the dogs are imported from Europe and brought to the U.S, while a small percentage are brought from San Antonio, Texas.
Each dog costs $950, but after complete training and being implanted with microchips the total cost can be up to $10,000.
The officers are able to afford the expense through donations and making money off of confiscated evidence from past drug busts and other criminal actvity.
One example of this is when they sell an impounded car they had seized in a drug investigation.
The dogs can weigh up to 70 pounds. When approaching suspects, they are trained not to engage until given the command by their handler.
Drug and patrol dogs are not allowed to sniff people according to the law; only border patrol dogs can sniff suspects.
Even though the officers refer to their dogs as their partners, they are seen as expendable assets.
If a suspect shoots a dog they will only be charged with a misdemeanor.
Students found the event interesting, especially the roles these patrol and drug dogs take on at work.
“It was pretty interesting to see the dogs in action,” Amber Richardson, Brownell, said. “It was amazing to see them work, after all that training.”
Some faculty at HCC attended the event as well, and were grateful that the officers came to the school to demonstrate what they go through daily.
“It was mind-blowing to learn the process they go through with these dogs,” said Darrell Adams, residence hall supervisor at HCC.
“It’s crazy how they go through that training course. It’s a hell of a job.”