Numerous families at the Niagara County Fair on August 5 made a stop to visit the Niagara County Sheriff's Office tent for a four-legged show. But the animals they came to see were anything but show dogs.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office K-9 Team introduced its newest officer today - E.J., a German Shepherd from Hungary. While E.J. doesn't understand English (he still responds to his native Slovak), he gets his job done all the same.
The Sheriff's Office put on a demonstration to show what E.J. has been learning. He and his handler have spent 360 hours at a training school in Syracuse, N.Y. to learn basic techniques, and will go back in September to go through a specialized narcotics program.
Lieutenant James Hildreth led the demonstration, and he said dogs like E.J. can cost a good deal of money to acquire. A trained dog can cost as much as $20,000, but Lieutenant Hildreth says having those dogs pays off.
"We're a very busy K-9 Unit in Niagara County," Lieutenant Hildreth said. "We handle about 3,000 calls a year, so we're an active K-9 Division."
E.J. only responds to commands in Slovak, which is intentional by his handler. Even though trained dogs are in tune with their handlers in the field, Lieutenant Hildreth said they are trained in foreign languages to avoid confusion if a suspect starts shouting commands to a dog in pursuit.
E.J. started on the force about four months ago, and turns two years old in two months.