The Economic Development Team (EDT) and other officials representing Richmond County municipalities met Wednesday morning at the airport to receive a presentation by K2 Solutions over breakfast.
Rodger Moore, Vice President of the Canine Directorate, and retired Special Forces, introduced the EDT to the kennel and training facility located in Derby. He explained how the kennel is operated, how the dogs are trained and what for, where they will go and how they will help save soldiers lives in the Middle East. Moore also explained how the Canine Directorate can partner with Richmond County.
Moore explained that many of the staff consist of retired military, and over half are veterans. The facility in Derby is spread over 125 acres, with five kennels and 274 dogs are there at this time. The facility cost around $3 million to set up initially, and now is one of the top three largest kennels in America.They have 126 employees, 48 vehicles and 69 trainers.
“We searched all over for the best trainers,” said Moore.
Moore said they train a few different breeds to do different tasks. German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are multipurpose dogs, which may be able to do a few different and versatile tasks, such as finding narcotics or apprehending a criminal trying to escape. Labradors are trained to find explosives like C-4 and TNT. Labs may also be trained to track, and can find hidden or lost people. The dogs are specially selected from breeders, many from Europe, that specialize in breeding work and protection breeds. The dogs are screened as puppies and must exhibit specific traits to be accepted into the program.
“We look for emotional stability and hunt drive,” said Moore. “Then we do health screening.”
The trainers take it one step further, and get the puppies used to all sorts of different things when they are young, such as walking over different textures and terrains, wearing certain harnesses and hearing and seeing many unfamiliar things. This ensures that when the dog goes overseas, it won’t be alarmed or distracted by people, animals, smells and other things that may grab the attention of a less focused dog.
To this date, 245 dogs have been certified to work overseas, and 106 dogs have been sent overseas. A Field Service Representative flies to the Middle East ahead of the dogs to assist soldiers who will be handling the dog with training and questions. Although not involved in combat, the Field Rep will stay in the field for about six months.
“We’re really happy to be in Richmond County,” said Moore. “We’d like to have a relationship with you.”
Moore discussed how the Canine Directorate sells dogs to Richmond County police departments, and that his facility offers training maintenance courses for officers receiving K9s. Siler City, Forsyth County, and the Marine Corps use dogs trained at the Derby facility. Those dogs will take a certification test each year to assess their fitness for the field. Moore said after about five years, some dogs no longer pass the test, and there are other avenues available for them. Moore said sometimes dogs don’t pass the initial test, and knows that some dogs that didn’t make the cut for the Marine Corps now work for Terminix, sniffing out bed bugs in hotels and motels.
Moore said he receives phone calls about the facility and dogs, and wants to let people know that the dogs have a steep price attached to them. The facility doesn’t euthanize dogs, either; they find new homes for them.
After the presentation, K2 held a demonstration outside with their dogs and handlers. One man dressed in a protective suite, fled from his vehicle. The handler released the dog and it grabbed the man by his ribs from behind and pinned him on the ground. The man in the suite got up and ran away, then stopped and said “I give up! I surrender,” and the dog stopped just behind him and sat. In another demonstration, a handler demonstrated how hand signals can be given to a lab to ask him to head in a certain direction while searching an area.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.