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Successful K-9 Mizzou soon to get help

Successful K-9 Mizzou soon to get help

September 22nd, 2017 by Michelle Brooks in Local News
K-9 Mizzou has been protecting Moniteau County as a member of the sheriff's department. (Submitted photo)

Putting her nose on the line, K-9 Mizzou has been protecting Mid-Missouri from illegal drugs for four years.

With the help of children's piggy banks and adult fundraisers, she will be joined this fall by K-9 Apollo at the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department.

The complete costs for K-9 Apollo and his equipment and training will be $15,000. Donations have come from residents, local organizations and businesses to meet that goal.

"No county money will be spent on the purchase of the dog," Sheriff Tony Wheatley said.

A pork steak dinner will be held 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Clenin Farm Supply. Wheatley hopes they will fulfill the goal after the event.

"It is really touching to see small children come into the office with their parents or grandparents and want to donate their allowance towards the K-9s," he said.

Wheatley became a K-9 handler for the Morgan County Sheriff's office, which had received K-9 Joky from the U.S. military. He and Joky were certified at the K-9 Unlimited school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The pair worked about three years for Morgan County and the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force, before Wheatley traveled overseas for four years.

"When I returned I saw the need for another K-9 at Morgan (County) and then applied for the K-9's 4 Cops grant to try and get one," Wheatley said.

The neighboring county was awarded a K-9, valued at $15,000, in 2013. Wheatley spent two days in Houston, Texas, to select the right dog.

That's when he met K-9 Mizzou, who was about 2 years old at the time.

"I left Mizzou in Texas to continue her training and came back to Missouri," Wheatley said. "A couple of months later, I went back to Texas and began training with Mizzou, the Harris County Texas Sheriff's Office and Houston K-9."

Wheatley and Mizzou trained together for another six weeks with other K-9 teams from across the country.

They were certified through the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association in February 2014 and returned to Mid-Missouri.

When Wheatley won the Moniteau County Sheriff's race in November 2016, he wondered what would become of K-9 Mizzou.

"I then spoke with the (Morgan County) Sheriff Jim Petty, who agreed with me that Mizzou and I should not be split up as a team," Wheatley said. "We then spoke with the (Morgan County) commissioners, who agreed to sell K-9 Mizzou to Moniteau County for $1."

K-9 Mizzou served Morgan County for nearly three years before coming to Moniteau County Jan. 1, when Wheatley took office.

She is a mala-herd, a European police breed that crosses Belgian Malinois with Shepard, and is five years old. She was born and trained primarily in Budapest, Hungary. She weighs 71 pounds and is certified in tracking and narcotics, including methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy.

"Mizzou has had many accomplishments during her training and performed at the top of her class," Wheatley said. "Mizzou has had countless narcotics finds in vehicles, houses, open fields and businesses with her longest successful track being around two miles."

Wheatley and K-9 Mizzou have assisted other agencies and will continue that policy, he said.

"Mizzou plays a large role in our department by giving us that extra tool that we can utilize to help stop the flow of illegal drugs in our area," Wheatley said. "Without Mizzou being here, we would not have the success we are having battling the drug problems in the county."

But, the department decided it need more help.

"With the addition of another K-9, we can run K-9s on both shifts, without having to try and call another handler out, who may be out of the area," he said.

Having a second K-9 also allows them to cover a larger search area without wearing out a single K-9.

"K-9s have a limited time they can work in without having to break," Wheatley said. "Dogs are like people, they get tired and their senses weaken over time. A dog is continually sniffing hard in and out of their nose only trying to inhale as much of the air as possible to get the scent they are looking for."

The Moniteau County Sheriff's office will add K-9 Apollo, a Belgian Malinois, this fall.

While Mizzou is a narcotics and tracking K-9, Apollo is a full-patrol K-9, which adds apprehension of fleeing suspects to the department's tools, he said.

Most agencies need and want a second K-9, but budgets and manpower are limited. Having two K-9s working in a county this size is not typical, Wheatley said.

"We are very fortunate to be able to do so and would not be able to without the support of the community, Wheatley said. "The support for the sheriff's office and our K-9 program has been overwhelming.