K-9 unit graduates in Hiram

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HIRAM, Ohio (WJW) — Officers Bruno and Barnes will be hitting the streets of Akron soon.

They’ve trained together for months and on Friday they’re graduating from Excel K-9 services in Hiram.

Although Officer Barnes… who is the cop with two legs, says Bruno…. the one with four legs, is the one who trained him more than the other way around.

“He did, he did. I showed up on that first day and didn’t know what I was doing and he went and did everything so I looked really good and we just bonded,” Officer Paul Barnes said.

Bruno and all the dogs with the Akron police department do a lot.

They can sniff out drugs and apprehend a suspect.

But what’s more important is that they’re trained so well that no matter what the situation, they know when to stop.

Police dog training has expanded because the dogs have to fulfill many roles. They’re not just dogs who bite.

There are dogs that are trained not only to sniff out drugs, but to find things like shell casing, cellphones and other bits of evidence a suspect could try to hide.

The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is adding two new dogs to their force as their other dogs are nearing retirement age.

They’re so integral to police work now that the sheriff says they can’t imagine not have several dogs around.

But dogs also have to not only be well trained in police work but community work as well.

“These dogs aren’t going to be like they used to be – aggressive and a bite dog. I want our dogs to be friendly, social and literally be at the fair, at the sheriff’s office. People come there, they can pet them and have kids try to ride them and then be able to go out there and do their job,” Portage County Sheriff Bruce Zuchowski said.

One of the most unique graduates of this class is Officer Wesley, a black lab who will start work at Akron Children’s Hospital.

He not only has a nose that can find explosives, but he’s also a therapy dog whose other job and most important one, is to help children who are in the hospital through a tough time.

“He flips a switch. We go from sniffing bombs. We can go right into playing with the kids. He’s the same dog. He’s just super relaxed and super chill,” said Wesley’s handler, Officer Patrick Walker.

The dogs know their stuff.

No matter what their specialty, their purpose on the police force is to grow into officers who can not only enforce the law, but officers who also know what it’s like to just be a dog.

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