PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s no such thing as a typical day at the office for K9 police officers.

“In law enforcement, you are always going a bunch of different places, especially a K9 officer,” Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff Maria Watt said. “You might be in a house one day and out it the woods another day. You are not in the same place every day, so a different training environment is very important.”

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That’s why nearly three dozen officers and their K9 partners train at an industrial facility in Allegheny County.

The training is coordinated by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department.

Watt said working with other cops from around southwestern Pennsylvania has many benefits.

“We learn a lot from each other. We are all from different areas so we experience different things so it’s nice to have the relationship with each other so we can share these different experiences,” Watt said.

At a trucking facility in the county, trainers set up multiple stations where dogs search for explosives or narcotics hidden in concrete block or on a tractor-trailer rig.

Police officers involved from the training are from more than three dozen agencies and from nine counties. Some of the training happens in the parking lots of Heinz Field where officers and their K9 partners learn hard surface tracking.

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“The only thing on a hard surface is human scent,” Tim Bliss, a K9 officer with the McKeesport Police Department, said.

He also served as an instructor at Heinz Field.

“When you go onto grass or dirt, there is disturbed dirt with it so it is harder for the dog to solely find human scent on pavement,” Bliss said.

That is why it is much easier for dogs to track on dirt or soft ground. While Bliss is the instructor, he also said he is a student.

“I am learning stuff right now just working with these guys. Working bomb dogs and narcotics dogs and stuff, you pick up something new every time you come to training,” Bliss said.

“We all constantly train. It’s not just a once a year kind of thing. We do this weekly or bi-weekly. The dogs are constantly being trained, any new things we need to learn or share with each other, training is very important for that,” Watt said.


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