Charlotte-Mecklenburg police on Thursday debuted their two newest members of the K-9 unit – Leonidas and Atarah.
Here’s a look at the dogs, and their unit.
Both dogs are from Holland. Europe has a long tradition of breeding dogs for police use, CMPD officers said. The dogs were acquired in October, had 10 weeks of intensive training and are very loyal and social.
There are 14 dogs in the unit, and cost about $7,000 each. Some costs have been donated. Most of the dogs are German shepherds or Belgian malinois. There’s also one bloodhound.
The dogs in the unit know more than one language and respond to commands in Dutch, German or Czech, depending on their initial training. They also understand English.
Each dog lives with the officer assigned to it.
Leonidas and Atarah are trained for tracking people, searching through buildings and detecting explosives. Other dogs are trained to find narcotics as well as suspects.
On the hunt for explosives, they look for several specific scents and are trained for passive alert – to sit down when they find what they are looking for.
Finding the scents is like a game to the dogs. They get a reward for a “good action” or a job well done, such as a rubber ball or piece of rope to play with.
K-9 Sgt. Mike Graue explained how good a dog’s sense of smell is.
Imagine walking into your mom’s kitchen and smelling an apple pie baking. The K-9 dog in the kitchen can distinguish the smells of the sugar, butter, cream, cinnamon and other ingredients that went into that pie, Graue said.