K-9 dogs in training compete in certification trials in Wayne

WAYNE, N.J. (WABC) — Before you see K-9 police dogs on the street, they receive extensive training alongside their handlers — and even get the chance to compete in friendly competition.

K-9 trials are underway in New Jersey, with dogs putting their skills to the test to see who is the best on show.

And if there was any concern, it would be with the handlers – because these K-9s showed up and showed top-notch explosives detection skills in certification testing.

“So this dog working here is an Essex County, one of their new explosive dogs and recently attended Passaic County K-9 School,” said Sheriff’s Officer Lt. Jamie Tangorra K-9 Handler at the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department. “And when I see them doing their job and finding the explosives and narcotics, it’s very gratifying.”

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The trials are conducted by the Police Canine Association Region 15, and they are tested at all levels.

“It’s a bit of a competition,” executive director Tom Conroy said. “We are looking for the perfect dog, a dog that moves quickly, a dog that responds quickly. The officer is able to move the dog quickly and read the dog’s alert and know that the dog has a scent. The dog perfect shouldn’t disturb the package, and should be a safe dog to work around people.”

Partnerships between dog and handler are also judged, and it’s a team effort.

“They’re taking their K-9s home,” Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik said. “They are part of the family.”

Officials also try to throw them away, and some boxes may contain dog food, coffee grounds, or other scents to see if they distract K-9s.

Most of these dogs have received four months of training under the direction of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Elite K-9 staff.

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“We probably train 10 to 15 dogs a year sometimes,” Tangorra said. “And we help a lot of smaller agencies in the area that don’t have trainers or facilities.”

The top K-9s are chosen to compete in National Trials later this year in Georgia.

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