At the trials, the teams were tested in obedience, agility, evidence recovery and suspect search through smell, bite work and criminal apprehension with and without gun shot, and each hoped to earn national certification and individual awards.
By LINDSEY NOLEN
From Sunday, Sept. 25 to Friday, Sept. 30, the Gloucester Township Police Department hosted the annual 2016 United States Police Canine Association National Patrol Dog Trials. Alongside his handler, Officer Chris Gerace, K9 Arrow of GTPD participated in the five-day event.
At the trials, the teams were tested in obedience, agility, evidence recovery and suspect search and criminal apprehension with and without gunshot, and each hoped to earn national certification and individual awards. Out of the approximately 100 police K-9 teams from across the United States and Canada, Gerace and Arrow, who placed 11th at last year’s competition, received a final score of 636 out of 700 possible points, however he did not make the top 20.
“I would like to finish in the top 10, and I would like to see our host region, region 15, to win the ‘Sunny’ Burke Top Region Team Award,” Gerace said before the trials began. “He was a canine handler in Atlantic City who was killed in the line of duty, and is awarded to the region with the top combined score for four dogs. The Burke family will be here to present the award at the event, so it’s even more special.”
The K9 program within GTPD has existed since January 1999. Gerace, who joined the GTPD in 2003, first began working with Arrow after completing 18 weeks in the canine academy in January 2011. Together, they have been to five national competitions and six regional competitions for patrol.
“Every day we train. During a lot of what we do for our training, we like to incorporate food. These dogs live for it,” Gerace said.
At the trials in Gloucester Township, the first trials held in the northeast since 2003, one other GTPD canine, Cody, participated alongside handler Officer Joseph Eden. The department just retired canine Nero and is waiting to have its newest addition, Radar, start at the academy.
With the goal of making this the best National Patrol Dog Trials yet, Gerace has worked hard to organize and plan ahead for this event. To offer entertainment to the other handlers present, he helped organize a bus trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and on Thursday, Sept. 29 so they can see historic parts of the nearby city.
There was also a live band cornhole tournament on Sunday, Sept. 24, a hospitality night and an informative session on dental health for dogs hosted by University of Pennsylvania Dentistry. A demonstration was additionally held on Thursday, Sept. 29 at Timber Creek High School, where from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the vocational school offered meals.
Then at 6 p.m., the canine demonstration began, and a State Police Helicopter later deployed a dog and the best canines were highlighted. The night concluded with a fireworks show.
“I got to show off our community. It was a lot of work to put together, and I think people appreciated it all,” Gerace said.
For more information on the event, contact Gerace by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.