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Two of Brunswick County’s canine law enforcement officers will retire to the care of their trainers.
“Historically, since the K9 program started in the 1990s, the handlers are the first option to take the dogs,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said.
Spike and Carlos were declared surplus at the Nov. 19 county meeting and were then given to their trainers, Jeremy Walls and Ben Simmons, respectively.
The county’s choice was to find suitable, loving homes or have the dogs euthanized.
The county’s preferred option is placing the dogs in a good home.
County attorney Huey Marshall said it would be more humane to make their latter days as comfortable as possible.
“They trained with their partners and developed long-term relationships with (them),” Marshall said.
“They are closest to the dogs; they have developed a bond. It’s the best opportunity for the dogs to have a good retirement,” Ingram said.
Walls and Simmons have signed agreements to care for the dogs for the rest of their lives, Marshall said.
Walls no longer works for Brunswick County. Simmons is still part of the sheriff’s office.
Commissioner Phil Norris asked if the county was absolved of all liability if the dogs go to the trainers.
Marshall said the move to designate the dogs as surplus ensures that no financial consideration is part of the agreement. The trainers receive no compensation or other type of support for taking in the dogs.
“The animals have had a lot of training. Is this a better option than trying to trade them?” Commissioner Scott Phillips asked.
“It would be better to put them down than try to trade them,” Marshall said.
He added that at one time the dogs each still had some trade value, but now they have reached the end of their usefulness.
According to the sheriff’s office, both dogs worked for five years, from 2007-2012.
Law enforcement canines are used in police work, taking advantage of their sense of smell to search for drugs and also for personal identifications, Marshall said.
“For example, if an elderly person walks away (from home), they can send the dog to find them by their smell,” he said.
Marshall added that training dogs for law enforcement work costs between $20,000-25,000.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.