APD officer training with bomb-sniffing dog

ALBANY -- Calling the new K-9 addition to the Albany Police Department a bomb dog might shortchange the dog's value.

With federal funds available through a grant, Albany police collected a trained German shepherd bomb dog from Florida as part of a program to have a network of dogs available within one hour of any state location, said Steve Butler, police planning and research manager.

"The program enhances APD's ability to respond to various threats that could be encountered within our community," said Butler, who wrote the grant application for the police department.

The grant provides $7,400 a year to cover food, veterinarian fees and other expenses associated with keeping a dog, Butler said. The dog's handler will continue to receive his regular pay from the department, Butler added.

The grant also provided a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe, which was equipped with lights, communications and a dog cage, Butler said.

The year-old, male dog, Bubi, started further training with his handler and new partner police Sgt. Bennie Wilson, 36, Monday at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

The training is designed to establish the dog and his partner as a unit in the field.

"The sergeant will have two days of academic work, then he and the dog will have field training," said Sheriff's Sgt. James Moore. "We are the designated training center for K-9 in our area of the state."

Moore pointed out the additional services the dog is trained to provide.

Besides sniffing out 19 different sorts of chemicals associated with bombs, the new recruit can find weapons, ammunition, spent shell casings and a variety of other evidence necessary to make a case against a suspect, Moore said.

"These dogs are very valuable tools in law enforcement," Moore said. "They are very good at recovering guns used in crimes."

Bubi was already named when he was picked out of a line up of sorts at Southern Hills Kennels Inc. in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

"They had several dogs to choose from," Wilson said. "I saw the work habits of this one and I thought I could work with him best. They were already named."

The dogs come from European stock, said Bill Heiser, kennel president. European dogs are not carelessly bred as some American dogs are. Their European breeders pay strict attention to bloodlines, he added.

The kennel, in business since 1988, specializes in dogs for use by law-enforcement agencies, he said. They are experienced at putting a dog and his new partner together.

Partners Wilson and Bubi plan to graduate from their training Feb. 5. The duo will have plenty of time to bond, Wilson will take Bubi home from work to stay.

"I think he has already bonded with me," Wilson said. "I think we'll work well together."