By Pfc. Brian J. Holloran, 130th Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 31, 2010
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - "Sir, can you please come over here' Sir, come over here ... Get' em!!"
These are words everyone should try to avoid hearing, but these are the words Hugo, and the other military working dogs on Camp Bondsteel, are waiting to hear.
Camp Bondsteel currently has three Military Working Dogs (MWD) trained in a variety of skills from locating explosives and drugs, to conducting patrols and attacking aggressive individuals.
"Every military working dog knows how to patrol, attack and they are taught how to detect either explosives or drugs," said Staff Sgt. Fredrick C. Ferrigno, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Camp Bondsteel Military Working Dogs.
The dogs go through rigorous training at Lackland Air Force Base before being sent to their units.
"The training is approximately one-hundred days long," said Ferrigno, a native of Long Branch, N.J. "It's broken into two separate blocks, the first is patrol and attacking, the second is their respective detector training."
The handlers also undergo training at Lackland, where they learn how to work with the dogs and keep them fixated on their mission.
"My job is to assist the dog," said Sgt. Brandon Hiller, MWD handler, Camp Bondsteel. "I give it the best opportunity to find the odor and to keep his attention where it needs to be for him to do his job efficiently and effectively with minimal error."
While deployed in support of KFOR, the MWDs and their handlers are used regularly to look for narcotics as well as explosives.
"While we are here we will sweep fuel and delivery trucks," said Hiller, a Glenmont, Ohio resident. "We even helped out at the U.S. Embassy for their 4th of July party."
"The majority of our mission here is base security," said Ferrigno. "We do random searches throughout the base to include the post office, (post exchange) area, the (morale, welfare, recreation) facilities. We also provide security for visiting VIPs and events."
"Having the dogs here is great," said Lt. Col. Jose Boria-Cruz, a native of Juncos, Puerto Rico, deputy commander, Multinational Battle Group East. "The military working dogs are a force multiplier. They greatly increase our effectiveness in providing a safe and secure environment. They also make our lives on base a lot safer. I don't like to think about how different things would be without these dogs and their handlers."