K-9 bomb squad already makes mark on case

By Jim Bellis • Staff Writer • March 24, 2010
The Robertson County Emergency Management Agency has a new member who has already proven her value, and that, without having yet completed her final training for certification in the recognition of explosives.

Onya, a two-and-one-half-year-old German Shepherd came to the agency from Montgomery County and had received minimal training prior to her arrival.

Since arriving Onya has received training in agility, search and rescue, and explosive recognition as part of her training towards full certification. The explosive recognition recently proved to be useful.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Homeland Security District 7 Bomb Squad, was called to Port Royal to search for evidence, specifically a weapon.
Although uncertified, Onya was called into service for training on this mission. With handler Melinda Hogan, Onya located the weapon where other K-9 units could not. Onya alerted to a handgun and notified Hogan by barking.

Onya’s explosive recognition training helped her to identify the faint scent of gunpowder still encased in an unfired pistol round and contained in the handgun’s magazine. The weapon had lain outdoors for 16 days and been rained on which further dissipated the scent. Despite these handicaps the gun was located and has now been entered into evidence.

Hogan said the two spend many hours each month in training together. She said all hours spent on her part are volunteer hours for EMA. The potential for safety is increased with each training session allowing Onya to be used more effectively in potential life-saving applications involving bomb threats in public places such as businesses, shopping areas, and schools.

Onya is expected to be fully certified by late summer but has already proven her value as she continues on track toward earning her credentials. Her badge has already been ordered.

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