Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 23, 2013

After school program students get lesson on long arm of the paw

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

NORTH TAZEWELL, Va. — Click here for video

Two Tazewell County Sheriff’s deputies took students of the after school program at North Tazewell Elementary School by Storm ... and by Evo ... Friday afternoon as two Tazewell County sheriff’s deputies and their K9 partners demonstrated their combined talents for detecting drugs and following commands.

Deputy Daniel Scott and his K9 partner, Storm, were the first to show the young students how the two work together to find drugs. Before the team entered the school gymnasium, Major Harold Heatley hid a small package containing methamphetamine in a small wooden box — one of four identical wooden boxes in the gym.

Scott and Storm, a Dutch Shepherd, walked past two of the boxes, but hit on the third wooden box the team encountered. As soon as Storm sat beside the box, Scott rewarded his partner by giving him a tennis ball to chew on.

“These dogs are police patrol dogs as well,” Heatley said. “They’re very nice dogs, but they’re all business. They’re very, very protective of their human partners.”

Heatley narrated the demonstration, and then opened the floor to questions from the students. The students asked several questions: “Do they take the drugs out, or just sniff them?” one student asked. “How do you train them?” another asked.

Heatley answered question before letting Scott and Storm leave the room as Deputy Jonathan Caldwell and his partner, Evo, entered. Evo is a Belgian Malinois. Evo and Caldwell have been working together since the first of the year, about the same time as Scott and Storm have been together. In response to one student’s question, Caldwell explained that Evo was trained to respond to commands in the Dutch language.

Heatley said that the sheriff’s office has a third K9, Nitro, an explosives detecting K9. “Nitro has not found any explosives, and that’s a good thing,” Heatley said. “What happens if you lock all three dogs in the same room together?” a student asked. “We don’t do that,” Heatley replied. “Do the three dogs get along with each other?” another student asked. “Not at all,” Heatley answered quickly.

Dennis Lee, Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney explained how much the law respects K9 police dogs. “If someone hurts a police dog, they get a 10-year sentence,” Lee said. “Those dogs do a great job.”

Heatley said that both K9s were working with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office thanks to the generosity of the Ramey Auto Group, the Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and the H.I. Shott Jr. Foundation. “This didn’t cost the taxpayers of Tazewell County anything,” Heatley said.

Sharon Kitts, director of the Substance Abuse Task Force, said that the purpose of the after school program is to expose young students to things they may not be aware of. Abby Kitts, director of Camp Joy, works with the students in the program.  “You got to meet two extremely cool dogs,” she told the students.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com