UW-Madison police welcome newest K9

The UW-Madison Police Department will be welcoming a new officer to its force. This officer specializes in narcotics detection and human tracking and has a nose for sniffing out crime.

K9 Officer Kobalt and his handler, UWPD officer Nikki Zautner, are on their way home to Madison from a 6-week intensive training program at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania, a kennel the department has used before to select dogs, department spokesman Marc Lovicott said. 

Kobalt is a pure-bred German Shepherd from the Netherlands and was selected by Zautner to be her partner. She chose the name “Kobalt” as take on the traditional blue uniforms worn by police officers, Lovicott said.

“She was just drawn to him,” Lovicott said.

Kobalt will spend time with Zautner getting used to the department and the community when he arrives in Madison, Lovicott said. His training will continue while he learns to stay calm and focused in the often chaotic atmosphere of a college campus.

Once Kobalt acclimates to his new surroundings, he will be assisting on calls relating to narcotics and human tracking using his heightened sense of smell to detect drugs and follow a scent trail.

Other law enforcement agencies will have some interaction with Kobalt as well.

“They’ll be getting up to speed and going out on calls not just in our community but in the city and the county as well,” Lovicott said.

UWPD has two other K9 officers as well. Maya was brought to the department in 2013, and Ritter was brought on last year. Both are trained in explosive detection as well as human tracking.

Maya is partnered with Sgt. Nic Banuelos, and at home she lounges in the sun, plays with her little sister and picks up toys from around the house to stack them.

Ritter works with Officer Justin Zurbuchen and loves working at Badgers football games — he’s all about getting attention.