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New Dog, Old Tricks

September 25, 2008, 10:37 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

New Dog, Old Tricks
Man's best friend has also become one of the best resources law enforcement can use when it comes to finding drugs, missing persons, and criminals. But when a department loses one of its K-9 cops, making the transition with a new dog can take months.

Coming all the way from Holland the newest member of the Sioux Falls Police department is still trying to get familiar with the area. 

Sioux Falls K-9 officer Sgt. Jon Lohr says, "It's a lot of patience and a lot of work to making a new dog into a police dog." 

Andor, who is a Belgian Malinois, came to Sioux Falls just two weeks ago to begin his career serving and protecting Sioux Falls. 

Lohr says, "The efficiency with what they do goes a long way because we're able to search different things with the dogs, whether it be vehicles, school lockers, luggage, packages, it takes a small amount of time for us to search something that might take police officers or other investigators hours." 

While Andor is new to Sioux Falls, having a new partner, is also a new experience for K-9 unit supervisor and Sioux Falls Police Sergeant Jon Lohr. One month ago Lohr's very first police dog, Niko, was put to sleep. 

Lohr says, "He just had a few symptoms there towards the end that told us something might not be right. We did numerous tests on him and X-rays finally showed he had cancer in his lungs." 

Niko was one of two original police dogs that helped establish the Sioux Falls K-9 unit ten years ago. Niko was scheduled to be retired this month, but had to be put down after doctors found the dog's cancer. It's a loss that is impacting Sergeant Lohr both professionally and personally. 

Lohr says, "Niko is obviously a partner. I worked with him 40 hours a week; he was with me at home, additionally the rest of the week." 

And now Lohr is trying to break in Andor to get him ready for duty, a task that can take a while after working with only one dog since Sioux Falls Police started using K-9's. 

Lohr says, "A lot of time and patience. The time can take several months to get a dog fully trained, so that they are able to be certified and actually work in the state of South Dakota." 

But Lohr says Sioux Falls Police believe breaking in a new dog is worth it, because of the job police dogs can do in finding drugs and criminals. 

Lohr says, "As well as what we feel is a deterrent for people who might be trying to transfer or use drugs. They always know that the dogs are out and about and that they may be subject to a dog search at some point if that comes up." 

And with a new dog by his side Lohr knows that the extra work will pay off when it comes to protecting and serving the citizens of Sioux Falls. 

The Sioux Falls K-9 unit has been expanded from two dogs to four dogs since it was started in 1998. There is a memorial fund set up for Niko at the Dale Animal Hospital in Sioux Falls with all of the money going to the Second Chance Rescue Center.

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