Deputies with the Pitt County Sheriff's K-9 Unit train with their furry partners at least two hours every day to prepare for searches or bite attacks.
Sheriff Neil Elks presented the five K-9 handlers with certificates of appreciation Thursday for their hard work. The deputies and their K-9 officers recently completed their narcotics certification with the United States Police Dog Association. Lt. Deputy Ross said each K-9 meets or exceeds the national standards set by the association to qualify and complete duties on scene.
Each K-9 unit is responsible for its own patrol area in addition to preparing for searches like April's triple homicide in Farmville. Deputy Macon Moore Jr. personally trained his own dog Asa to become a K-9 officer since he was 10 weeks old.
"He's my partner, but he's more like a son," Moore said. "He came from Holland and was shipped down to Florida. Most dogs come from overseas just from the fact that's where military and police dogs are trained and raised."
Moore said in addition to training two hours every day, they train for a 12-hour session at East Coast K-9 in Edgecombe county every month. The dogs are chosen by their build and drive as puppies to become officers. Including training, Sheriff Elks said the dogs, most German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois, can cost from $10,000-$14,000.
Moore and Sheriff Elks said the K-9 unit is vital to the department for being able to track down suspects, articles like a gun, criminal apprehension and search for hidden narcotics.
The K-9 officers stay at home with their handlers continuing their service 24/7. Deputies in the K-9 unit are paid the same amount as other deputies in the department.