From Canine to K-9

Columbia, S.C. (WACH) - Detecting explosives, returning lost ones to their loved ones, locating illegal drugs, and apprehending fleeing felons is a tough job that requires hard work, extensive training for those with two legs..just as much as it does for those with four.

From Canine to K9, our Lena Pringle takes viewers behind the scenes of what it is like for these four-legged officers as they train to become life-saving members of the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

During the ride-a-long, Lena, dispels myths of the dogs being vicious animals and brings to light just how these animals are able to balance being crime stoppers and community leaders.

It is important to note that these dogs aren't just pets, they are working dogs. Working dogs that have a sense of smell 10,000 times more powerful than the average human.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit is the largest in the state and one of the largest in the nation with 16 K9 teams to help protect South Carolina citizens.

These canine serve as an asset to the sheriff’s department. The 24-hour department keeps two dogs on the roads at all times.

Deputies say having an added presence helps to reduce crime, detect narcotics and bodies four times faster than a human and lessen the amount of work stress for deputies.

Police dogs are used on a federal, state, county and a local level. The dogs are flown in over 4,000 miles to the States from the Netherlands.

During their training these dogs have four drives: fight, hunt, prey and defend. While learning how to bond with their handler, all commands are taught in Dutch to help them detect the odors of illegal substances, tracking, apprehension, and article searches.

Training lasts about 15 weeks or more, depending on the dog's ability to fully grasp a concept.

To purchase canine deputies budget anywhere between $8,500 to $10,000. Once trained the K9s worth doubles as they have become trained to protect citizens. These dogs are sometimes funded by private donors.

Once the canine complete their training they then become K9 and typically serve anywhere from six to nine years.

The unit currently has well trained Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd. The department has stayed away from training German Shepherds due to their large size. With Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd’s their size is sleek and slim enough to fit into certain areas when searching for drugs and people.

These four-legged furry friends are not furious or vicious creatures like some may assume. In fact, they see their job as a game and are very well-mannered and sociable creatures.

Whether is be removing illegal drugs or apprehending violent felons or returning a lost child to their loved ones, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department K9 Unit is always ready.

These loving animals have a value that you cannot put a price tag on when it comes to keeping the community safe.

As one of our trivia questions, we asked viewers to guess what languge they think the RCSD trained thier K9 in. Here are the results to that trivia question:

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