K-9 lending its paw to the police department for decades


By Kat Halfman

GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Police Department (GBPD) employs about 200 officers, five of whom have four legs and a tail.

Since the program’s inception, the police department has used 26 dogs – Neo, Echo, Senna, Pocket, Cliff, Cops, George, Vilac, Feit, Yukon, Irk, Expo, Jack, Hans, Zarro, Kili, Buddy, Doobie , Lobo, Basco and Smoke; and the five currently active dual-purpose K-9s Pyro, Puma, Drago, Roco, and Bose.

Officer Tom Conley, Puma’s dog handler, said the dual purpose means a K-9 is capable of working as a patrol dog and as a detection dog.

“Our dogs look for narcotics, whether it’s in buildings, vehicles, or outdoors,” Conley said. “So they do narcotics that way, but they also do article research… So let’s say someone commits a crime, runs, throws a knife, throws a gun, throws something, we can send our dogs to a specific area to fetch this. article, and they’re not specifically looking for a gun, they’re looking for a human scent on that gun.

He said they were also following.

“(Say) someone is running away from a traffic stop or a house or us, the dog follows the scent on the floor to ideally hopefully lead to where that person was to last time,” Conley said. “We lose track if they get in a car, enter a house or something goes wrong, but ideally we find them every time.”

He said K-9s and handlers make good teams.

“If I can’t get a hold of you and the dog can get to you, he’ll physically hold you down until we can get up there and get a hold of you,” Conley said.

The GBPD is currently recruiting its K-9 Elite dogs in Pulaski.

Conley said dogs are selected based on their potential compatibility with handlers and their selection test, which takes into account prey driving, hunting driving and combat driving.

He said K-9s can be male or female, but all of the dogs currently on the GBPD are male because their larger size makes them more effective in the field.

Conley said dogs are adopted when they are between 14 months and two years old and perform a wide variety of tasks.

Most of the training and equipment provided to K-9s and their handlers is provided by Bark N’ Blue, a foundation that provides funding and resources to K-9 units through donations.

He said K-9s can work anywhere from 3 to 14 years, depending on their health.

When it’s time for a dog to retire, Conley said his handler gets the first dibs because of the bond he forms.

If they can’t, other K-9 handlers at the station have the option of adopting the dog.

Here’s a look at each of GBPD’s active K-9s.


Puma is a six-year-old purebred German Shepherd who came to the Sport Police Service Schutzhund, which is German for “guard dog,” so he has a strong background in strict control and biting.

Puma works alongside manager Conley, who said he has a no-nonsense, work-oriented personality with little interest in socializing or gaming.

“Puma is hard work,” Conley said. “He doesn’t really care about being touched or petted or having a lot of social contact unless it’s me or my immediate family if not everyone else, he’s like, ‘Leave me alone, I want to go to work. I want to go find, I want to go hunt.'”

Conley said Puma was successful in tracking down the fleeing suspects, proving its worth to the department.

The two men search for explosives at Lambeau Field and are also on call for presidential visits.


Pyro is a six-year-old Belgian malinois who works alongside officer Scott Salzmann.

Pyro is described as a friendly dog, friendly to the point of knocking you over in his enthusiasm to socialize.

He said as soon as the suspect was taken into custody, Pyro was rushed to the veterinary hospital.

Since the Pyro incident, Conley said K-9 handlers have expanded their training in emergency medical care for dogs to be better prepared for the worst.


Officer Rodney Reetz works alongside Bose, a six-year-old German Shepherd.

Bose’s personality is similar to Pyro’s in that he is a social and friendly dog, who Conely says was successful in locating both narcotics and fugitive suspects.

Bose, Conley said, did not come from a Schutzhund background and came to the station with little bite training, and had to undergo additional training to become confident.


Drago, a six-year-old German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix, said Conley, sharing Puma’s no-nonsense attitude.

Working alongside Officer Jeff Brann, Drago located suspects and narcotics, proving his worth to the department.

He also needed additional bite training when he arrived.


Roco is a six-year-old German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix with an outgoing and friendly personality.

Roco arrived at the station with little training, but became a confident K-9 through additional training with his dog handler, Officer Taylor Clark.

Roco succeeded in locating the suspects and the narcotics.

“Roco, Pyro and Bose are quite sociable,” Conley said. “You could potentially get hurt by them because they could run over you saying, ‘Touch me, caress me, love me’, but they’re also capable of getting the job done.”

unbreakable bond

Conley said it’s hard to describe what it feels like to work alongside a K-9 – a dog he knows would lay down his life to protect and save at any time – calling their bond “indescribable”.

“The connection is huge,” he said. “Everyone in general understands their dog, their pet and what it means for you to lose it, but this dog and this bond are completely different. I trust (Puma) with my life. I know that if someone chases me or tries to mug me or hurt me, they will do whatever they can to protect me if they can get out of the car. If he’s with me, pretty much no matter what, he’s going to make sure he’s between me and whatever is trying to hurt me, or other officers. I can’t really explain it.

Conley said that even with the constant training, rituals and repetition needed to maintain tight control over the K-9, being a handler is one of the best jobs of strength.


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