‘He’s not a bad dump dog’: Chattanooga police officer shares what it’s like to have a K-9 partner

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Officer Lucas Timmons of the K-9 Unit of the Chattanooga Police Department has to educate people about his canine partner, a Belgian Malinois named Burt.

“He’s not a mean dump dog, he’s trained to bite people on command, and he did so to ensure the safety of officers and citizens,” said Timmons, who has worked in the department for a long time. just over 16 years old and has been part of the K -9 unit for over a decade. “I like to get the message across that it’s not like a chainsaw swinging on the end of a rope, they are very motivated and highly skilled to do their jobs.”

Timmons and Burt sometimes represent Chattanooga in competitions, most recently the “Detection Dog Challenge” on ESPN2.

“It was a good time. Being in the K-9 unit, you obviously love dogs and have a lot of common interests, so whenever you can get around the K-9 masters in particular, you already have so much in common so you get along really well with people, “said Timmons.” The experience of going inside the arena and competing with my dog ​​with other people from across the country was a really cool experience. “

(READ MORE: Meet Gunther, Chattanooga’s newest K-9 officer)

K-9 units are made up of dogs that are bred to perform specific tasks. Usually, the dogs that are part of the unit are high energy, intelligent and focused breeds such as Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, Dutch Shepherds and Labradors. Poughkeepsie, New York, recently featured the very first pit bull to join a police unit.

Timmons has had about five different K-9 partners during his career. Burt has been with him for over five years, and he says the time has helped him develop his self-confidence and a strong bond when he’s on the pitch.

“That’s what’s really different about him, is having that time. I always tell people that it takes about a year and a half of regular work with this dog to get really good, to know what s. ‘expect the dog and they know what to expect from you, “said Timmons.” We are able to help other officers do their jobs safer and better. “

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Chattanooga K-9: “He’s not a bad dump dog”

Police dogs are trained to perform a variety of tasks:

– Apprehension, which is especially made by herd breeds such as Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds because of their physical strength and their natural tendency to protect their masters.

– Detection, which is mainly carried out by English Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles and recently American Pit Bull Terriers.

– Search and rescue, mainly carried out by golden retrievers, American Labradors and border collies.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Police K-9 Unit Wins Best Dog Award in US Police Canine Association Field Trials)

Like humans, working dogs can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, especially those who have seen fights. Symptoms in dogs can include panic, panting, fear, aggression, and hyper-responsiveness, according to the American Kennel Club.

Working dogs who suffer from this disorder often stop and refuse to perform their tasks.

Timmons, who received the 2018 Top Narcotics Team award and is also an assistant trainer for the K-9 unit, says consistency is key to working and training dogs.

“All that comes with dog training is fairness and consistency. You have to make sure the dog knows what to expect from you,” Timmons said. “Going back to my connection with Burt, he knows what to expect from me, and there’s kind of a reward from me. You have to have that consistency and be fair.”

(READ MORE: ESPN2 To Air National K-9 Competition With Chattanooga Police Department Team)

Contact La Shawn Pagán at [email protected] or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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