Sheriff’s department raising funds to add another K-9 to unit

Ciara Parizek/MDN Sgt. Joseph Jackson and K-9 Baxi pose for a photo at the Ward County Sheriff's Department on May 13.

The Ward County Sheriff’s Department has started fundraising for another K-9 in preparation for Baxi’s eventual retirement.

Chief Deputy Larry Hubbard has already thought about the 5-year-old dog’s retirement from the Ward County Sheriff’s Department. With apprehension work being so physically demanding and sometimes violent, it can wreak havoc on hips and joints, greatly shortening the amount of time a dog is allowed to serve a department.

Fundraising for a second dog has been underway since Feb. 8.

Capt. Jason Kraft said they estimate Baxi’s time with the department is about at the halfway point, so they hope to have enough help from the community to add another Belgian Malinois before 2028.

Baxi is a Belgian Malinois, notorious for being lithe, agile, quick and having an extreme desire to work. He has been on duty with the Ward County Sheriff’s Department since June 2020 as a dual-purpose dog. He has been trained to sniff out narcotics as well as track.

The tracking has multiple uses, as well. Baxi might be called upon if the department receives a report of a missing elder who has Alzheimer’s disease, a child who wandered off or a suspect who fled from the scene of a crime or crash.

Fundraising for Baxi began in August 2019, and he and his handler were back to Minot to serve the community by the middle of the next year.

There was a time span of about three to four weeks that the fundraising was slow, but they were still able to meet their goal.

Hubbard is hoping the fundraising for the next working dog will be just as quick.

“We felt it was responsible to the community that donated to make sure that we put ourselves in a position that Ward County is never without a canine again,” Hubbard said.

Before Baxi was sworn in as a K-9 officer, the sheriff’s department was without a K-9 to look for narcotics and apprehend suspects, forcing it to turn to the Minot Police Department. At the time, the police had K-9 Caspian, a bomb-sniffing dog, and K-9 Ike was out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while Cyrus was in Minnesota for training with a new handler.

So the sheriff’s department reached out to the Burlington Police Department. Thankfully, they allowed the Ward County Sheriff’s Department to borrow Officer Anthony Pasterz and K-9 Kilo on occasion.

The dogs come to the Ward County Sheriff’s Department handlers fully trained from Vohne Liche Kennels of Denver, Indiana.

Even though the dog knows what to do, the handler still needs to bond with and learn from the dog. The handler will go to Vohne Liche Kennels for six weeks to learn how to read the dog’s body language, learn each cue and the behavior that goes along with it, how the dog alerts to finding substances and suspects and how to handle several other situations while out in the field.

Hubbard said Ward County is one of the departments able to pick the earlier class times in the year and also get first pick of the litter to obtain a dog that best fits the department’s needs and offers the right chemistry between the handler’s and dog’s personalities.

If there is no chemistry or bond between handler and K-9, the pairing would be a failure and the job would not be done as successfully, or the dog would likely have to go to a different handler.

The handler, and the handler alone, makes the decision as to which dog to work and live with every day.

Dogs from police and sheriff departments generally stay with their handlers for the remaining duration of their lives after they are retired from duty.


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