Backyard pet to become police dog

News Photo by Julie Riddle Sgt. David Whitford of the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office stands with his dog, Kilo, who will be trained in police work in coming months.

ROGERS CITY — A friendly dog popular with Rogers City children will soon head downstate to learn to help police find missing people and crack down on drug crime.

On Friday, the Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners OKed adding the dog to the county’s police force, with training costs to be covered by tax revenue from local marijuana facilities.

Kilo, a German shepherd owned by Sgt. David Whitford, of the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office, has found many friends among school children who regularly visit the playful dog over Whitford’s back yard fence.

The dog will continue to cavort with the community’s kids, but soon he will have a new job — fighting crime with his nose.

Though a rural area, the county has plenty to keep the dog busy, like a drug trade evidenced by the seven people currently in the county’s jail on drug charges, including those of operating methamphetamine drug houses, Whitford said.

News Photo by Julie Riddle Kilo, a 2-year-old East German shepherd, poses for a photo outside the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office on Friday.

“We are a pretty isolated, small community,” Whitford said, “but we still get all the stuff here that cities get.”

Whitford first floated the suggestion of training his dog for police work when the Rogers Township Board said they wanted to use tax revenue from the township’s three cannabis facilities — two grow operations and a medical and adult use store — to bolster enforcement of drug laws.

When Whitford suggested funding a police dog, “They were like, ‘Absolutely,'” Whitford said.

The funds wouldn’t have covered the cost of buying a dog, but Whitford already owned the 2-year-old East German Shepherd, a breed often used for police work and bred to be bigger, stronger, and faster than other shepherds.

Kilo has police work in his blood, with a father in police work in another county and a retired drug dog as a mother.

The dog will spend about two months downstate, learning to alert police to the presence of drugs and to track a missing person or help an officer find a fleeing suspect.

Whitford will travel south about once a week to keep up with Kilo’s training and learn to serve as his handler.

Kilo will not be trained to attack or apprehend, so Whitford will be able to take him into schools when he presents DARE programs locally.

The dog will belong to the family on off-duty hours but be considered county property when on duty, at least until his retirement, when he will revert back to a family pet.

Until then, the dog’s services will provide needed help, especially in an area where, Whitford said, too many people go missing and can’t be found.

Few police agencies in northern Michigan have police dogs, so, when officers need a dog’s services, they sometimes have to call one in from hours away.

Even the canine members of the Alpena County Search and Rescue are spread far enough apart that police may have to wait for their arrival when minutes count.

“Having him right in the back yard would be pretty beneficial,” Whitford said, giving his dog’s head a pat.


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