Feb 12, 2014 7:27 PM by Akeam Ashford
A Kaplan dog trainer is responding to criticism over a K-9 his academy trained.
The dog, named Fred, made headlines in Mississippi last week when Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania told a local newspaper that Fred wasn't performing to standards as a K-9 investigator.
The police department bought Fred from U.S. K-9 Unlimited in Kaplan two years ago.
The police chief told the paper his department weren't happy and wanted to return the dog.
During my trip to the dog training academy, I wanted to see how handlers dealt with these future officers. I quickly found out it feels as real as it looks.
Roger Abshire, owns the academy. He says training is a 17 week process--12 weeks of command basics, then an additional 5 weeks with a handler. That's why Abshire says he couldn't believe the news about one of his graduates.
"I was completely shocked, because it was conveyed that it was a dud dog, and that the dog was just not capable of performing his duties, which was further from the truth," Abshire said.
According to the Gulfport Police Department Police Chief Leonard Papania, Fred's problems started when he recently changed handlers.
"I am not an expert on K-9, but the way it was conveyed, or related to me was there was an issue where when the dog would do a building search something happened where, I think the term used was 'distracted'," Papania said.
It's a strong bond between handler and K-9, and it's a bond that just wasn't there in Gulfport, so Fred will be re-assigned to the Harrison County Sheriff's Office.
"It's like human beings who may have a conflict with each other and may be able to get along, but never best friends. The same things can happen between a dog and his handler, and that's what happened with Fred," Abshire said.
U.S. K-9 has offered the Gulfport police department a credit toward a new K-9 officer.
"I'm very, very, satisfied with what we get from U.S. K-9 Unlimited. As long as I'm chief of police of Gulfport Police Department, we'll continue to do business with them," Papania said.
The academy is known across the world for training K-9 officers.
Abshire says he's trained more than 5,000 K-9's and their handlers in the past 30 years.