BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. — Shot after shot, jumping one hurtle after another–K-9 officers are trained to protect and defend alongside their human partners. “It’s a full time job, I’m with him more than I am with my family most days,” Reading police officer John Hutchinson said.
Officers from the Lehigh Valley and Berks County showed off their skills at the annual K-9 trials event at the Moravian Academy in Bethlehem Township.
“It’s great because the public gets to see what these dogs too, how all their training comes together,” one of the judges, Lynda Cole explained.
The winning K-9s get more than just a dog treat, their handlers take home cash prizes for their units. Remaining donated funds go to support other military K-9 programs.”Events like this, they help us keep the dog fed, and equipment, and everything,” Lehigh Township police officer Jonathan Roth said.
The competition is pretty fierce. Judges pay close attention to the K-9s, and their ability to follow commands. “In the obedience, [we’re looking at] how the dog and handler work together, attentiveness, the agility,” Cole explained, “…with the bomb and drug work we’re making sure they’re signaling on the right piece of equipment.”
At the end of the day, win or lose, all competitors will be awarded some kind of cash prize, along with raising awareness for the need to support these K-9 heroes. “Everything we get for him is donated,” Roth said, kneeling with his K-9, Cash. “It’s phenomenal, it’s probably the best part of being a police officer because my partner is with me at all times.”