Military Working Dog Assists Local Carabinieri in Drug Seizure
By JOSN Michael Douglas
NAS Sigonella Public Affairs
SIGONELLA, Sicily (NWS) Canine Handler MA1 Stefan Thimmes
and silent partner Rico recently assisted local Carabinieri (Italian
police) in the seizure of 100 grams of cocaine with a street value
of roughly $10,000. The team also located a cash sum of $1,500 stashed
away in the suspect's Catania residence. That's all in a day's work
for two members of the largest Military Working Dog (MWD) kennel
in the Navy.
"The primary mission of MWDs here is deterrence and detection,"
said kennel master MAC Scott Thompson. According to Thompson, the
dogs provide the front line of defense in enforcing the Navy's stringent
zero tolerance policy for drugs. Sigonella's kennel has 17 dogs,
more than any other base in the Navy.
There are several types of MWDs according to Thompson, including
drug detection dogs, explosive detection dogs and patrol dogs. The
dogs are trained at Lackland Air Force Base, where they go through
a kind of dog boot camp. The handlers are trained at Lackland as
well, along with Army, Marine, Air Force and police dog handlers.
Some dogs need more attention and training than others, but most
dogs are ready to begin their Navy mission within four to five days
of their arrival in Sigonella. Some dogs take on the personality
of their handlers.
"There is a saying here: If the handler is having a good day,
the dog is having a good day," said Thompson.
In a recent Law Enforcement Physical Security (LEPS) assessment,
Sigonella's MWD kennel received no demerits. The LEPS assessment
measures everything from dog and handler abilities to everyday administration
and paperwork documents, such as dog certification and training
records. MWDs are not only charged with busting bad guys and locating
illicit drugs and explosives, they also help to educate school children
by visiting the school and participating in drug prevention programs.
Despite all the responsibilities and tasks, the dogs seem happy
just to receive a pat on the head and maybe a run at their favorite
toy. A small price to pay for the first line of defense in safety
and force protection.