Virginia Police Dog Association to hold 2008 fall workshop

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 3, 2008 – The Virginia Police Work Dog Association will host its 2008 fall workshop October 6-10 in Blacksburg, Va. The event is being hosted by the New River Valley contingent of the Southwest Virginia Training Group and is being sponsored by Shelor Motor Mile.

Training will focus on three areas: narcotics detection, criminal apprehension, and explosive detection. The narcotics detection will focus on vehicle searches, buried hides, and residential and commercial searches. During the criminal apprehension session, open area and aquatic apprehensions will be featured. Officer and canine teams will have the opportunity to receive special instruction from Con O’Donovan, a bomb dog handler from Dublin, Ireland during the explosive detection training.

“These training events help our officers get the latest legal updates as well as learn the latest in training techniques,” said Deputy John Hoover of the Franklin County Sherriff’s Department who is also a master trainer with the Virginia Police Work Dog Association and a certified master trainer with the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA).

Dr. Bess Pierce, an associate professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, will also participate in the training event. Pierce, who now coordinates the Community Practice Service in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is a recently retired U. S. Army officer who has worked extensively with military working dogs during her career.

For the past five years, Hoover has been leading an effort to construct a permanent memorial to honor Virginia law enforcement dogs killed in action. The commission to create the bronze statue that will be part of the Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial has been awarded to Blacksburg sculptor Larry Bechtel, who produced the heralded “Officer Down” sculpture at the Roanoke city Police Department.

The sculpture will be completed by June 2009 and the memorial itself is expected to be dedicated during Fall 2009 ceremonies to be held on the campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

There are an estimated 250-300 working police dogs in Virginia, according to Hoover. Hoover said that about a half-dozen animals have been killed in the line of duty since they began playing an active role in Virginia law enforcement about 35 years ago.