West Virginia Police Canine Association offers K-9 certification tests

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia Police Canine Association is offering K-9 certification tests this week.

K-9s go through a training seminar by the West Virginia Police Canine Association to get certified before they can go out in the field. Nick Mooney, an evaluator with the seminar, says they’re planning on doing many different training exercises with the dogs over the next few days.

“We have teams here throughout the taste of West Virginia. Due to the virus, some teams are coming in for one day of training for their certification and then some are able to stay, which gives us an opportunity to do some really neat exercises, which is kind of what we’re doing today,” Mooney said.

One of the most important exercises the dogs go through is identifying target odors. In this exercise, target odors are placed behind a solid wall and a K-9 has to distinguish which one it should be looking for. 

“It’s very important for our dogs to be able to indicate target odor, which might be explosives or narcotics, but also ignore distractor odors, which could be the gloves we use to put the narcotics or explosives out with, toy rewards, a tennis ball, rubber cone.”

Another exercise includes distraction training, where a K-9 has to ignore certain signals around them. Mooney says only a handful of K-9 in the state are able to pass some of these training exercises perfectly.

According to Chris Bloxton, a Raleigh Sheriff’s Office Deputy, even after a K-9 successfully completes training, it still goes through many hours of additional training each month with its handler. 

“Every department does a lot of training, about 16 hours a month to keep their dogs to par. To make sure everything’s going the way it’s supposed to be, so when it gets into the field and utilized, they’re utilized correctly,” Bloxton said. 

These certifications happen each year, where dozens of different K-9saround the state participate to be able to go out in the field with their handlers. The certification seminar lasts throughout the week, and police departments from counties all around the state participate to get their dogs certified.