BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Students at Holy Trinity got up close and personal with a couple K9 officers from Lee County last week.
Lee County Deputy Jordan Maag and Fort Madison Police Sgt. Greg Warosh brought their K9 partners to Shottenkirk Gym Friday evening and put on a bite demonstration.
As part of the presentation, the Holy Trinity students made a donation of more than $700 to the Lee County K9 Association which helps fund costs associated with the K9 programs.
Maag brought his K9 officer Kion, while Warosh showcased Fort Madison’s newly acquired Norik.
Maag and Warosh took turns talking about the relationship they have with their animals including training, care, and deployment.
Maag said having the dog in his care is one of the most rewarding experiences of his career in law enforcement. He told the students that handlers have the dogs with 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they become part of their families.
Kion had recently been deployed in a search and rescue in the timber near Farmington and had gotten rescue personnel within 100 yards of where the person was found, but got a foreign object lodged in his paw and had to be taken from the scene for medical treatment. Had it not been for the injury, Maag said Kion would likely have found the subject.
Kion and Gunner are both animals with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and have been part of the department for close to two years. The animals have transitioned through a couple different handlers as is needed when deputies leave the department. Kion is actually the third K9 officer with Lee County. One of the first K9s was Alex, who struggled with some commands during encounter drills. He is now working drug detection for the Transportation Security Administration.
Warosh said having Norik in the mix with the FMPD has helped provide additional resources for the department.
He said previously the department would have to rely on Lee County for a K9 presence and that was dependent upon availability and staffing. Now the city can deploy their own K9 officer.
Maag said control of the animals in tense situations is critical. During a bite demonstration, Maag monitored Kion’s attack on Warosh’s arm guard and gave a command to get the animal to release.
“If he hangs on and continues to bite, they can cost the department millions, so we have to be in total control. If he bites outside of a command, that can cost us millions, so these dogs have to respond,” he said.
Maag said he gives commands in three different languages.
“I like to mix them up when we train that way no one can pick up on the commands and potentially give one when we’re on the job,” Maag said.
Norik has been on the job for about two months. His training was a bit different from what the county deputies encountered. Warosh was actually trained to handle a dog that had already been trained for law enforcement duty. Previous training involved an officer getting with an untrained animal and the two trained together.
Both K9 operations are being funded privately through donations to county and city K9 programs. Donations can be made by contacting the Lee County K9 Association at 319-470-2327 or the Fort Madison Police Department at 319-372-2525.