By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 28, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28, 2013) -- Military working canine handlers, along with six military working dogs, visited Fort Rucker Elementary School March 21 to educate the children on how the dogs help police protect the installation and how to properly behave around them.
The lesson of the event that officers were trying to relay to the children was that military police officers use all types of resources to maintain a safe environment, and that the military working dogs are highly trained and very effective, according to Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal.
"Our on-post agencies have supported our safe school drills and have assisted on two occasions with our lock down drills," she said. "This event was a fun type of event that correlates nicely with the fifth grade Drugs Abuse Resistance Education program."
Officers demonstrated how they use narcotics to train their dogs and how they reward the dogs with toys. They also demonstrated basic obedience skills and, what the children liked the most, attack skills.
Caterina Martineau, a fifth grader, said that it was amazing how much the dogs remember and how trained they are.
"I think that the dogs are very controlled, and they only attack when they have the opportunity and are told to," she said.
The dogs are all trained for attack, drug or bomb detection, according to Sgt. Sean Dearden, MWD handler, who told the children that the dogs are dangerous and to never approach one.
"Do not touch the dogs, and don't make any sudden movements or run around these dogs because they will bite you," he said.
Possibly the highlight of the event for all the students and even school staff was when a teacher, Jennifer Kincaid, volunteered to don the bite suit and be rushed by MWD Cyro.
Before the handlers left they held a question and answer session where children asked everything from what happens if a bad guy climbs into a tree to where the dogs live.
Handlers wanted the children to become more aware of the dogs and to trust the Soldiers who control them.
"They are going to be friendlier towards us instead of running away after seeing what our dogs can do," said Spc. Christopher King, MWD handler. "They have a natural fear of the dogs, but now I think that though they are afraid to get bitten they know we have control of the animal," he said.
According to King, the Soldiers and dogs benefited as much from the demo as the children did because it was good training since the children make a lot of noise and are distracting.