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Sigonella 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.red ribbon icon

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