Channahon gets first drug dog

Hutch is narcotics, tracking K-9

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CHANNAHON – The village of Channahon’s first police dog, police K-9 Hutch, was sworn into office at Monday’s Village Board meeting, with his partner, Officer Dustin Carlson, introducing him to the trustees and residents in the audience.

The dog in the 1½-year-old K-9 unit could still be seen, as he leaned toward the bone treats that were brought to him as gifts. At the meeting, Hutch’s inked paw was placed on his oath of office document after village President Missey Moorman Schumacher swore him into office with an oath that included the phrase, “I, Hutch, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will ... faithfully discharge the duties of the office of police K-9 ... and shall not be distracted by birds, naps and at-large tennis balls.”

Although the mood of the meeting was light, with congratulations and children all around, the reason for the police department’s acquisition of the K-9 unit was serious.

Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow secured the funds for the dog, the dog’s training, Carlson’s training and to outfit a police vehicle for the K-9 from the county’s drug seizure fund. Glasgow was present at the meeting.

“I’m very happy I was in a position to help,” he said. “I’m sure some of you have seen the statistics for this year. We’re on pace for 79 to 80 fatal overdoses on heroin. ... Just 10 years ago, we were in the single digits. So if ever there was an epidemic, this is it. I’m hopeful this K-9 will help the Channahon officers not just locate the heroin, but save lives.”

Will County Board District 6 representatives Ragan Freitag, R-Wilmington, and Don Gould, R-Shorewood, also were present, as were state Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, and Channahon District 17 school board member Dee Foreman.

“I think I read somewhere that Channahon is rated one of the safest communities in Illinois,” Gould said, “and I think this action will make the community just a little bit safer.”

The idea of a K-9 unit gained momentum after Channahon Trustee Chantal Host brought the subject up to Freitag, who passed the idea along to Glasgow.

Hutch, a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix, began his United States training in August at a police and military kennel in Pennsylvania, by way of Hungary and Holland. He trained at the facility for more than a month before meeting Carlson. The partners then trained together for a month before coming home to Channahon.

He’s a good dog with a very social personality, Carlson said.

“All the dogs that come out of there are pretty social,” he said.

Hutch is a narcotics and tracking dog, not a patrol dog or an attack dog, Carlson explained. He has been trained to sniff out marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.

As a tracker, he also can locate missing children and others who have gone missing or who are hiding, including nonviolent offenders. Hutch can also track down objects, such as weapons or items thrown out of a car on a chase.

“He won’t track armed suspects or violent offenders,” Carlson said.

Even so, in a couple of months, Hutch will receive his bullet-proof vest, just to be safe.

Hutch and Carlson still have much training to do together. They work on it after hours at home sometimes. Hutch lives with Carlson, Carlson’s wife and their other dogs, who have taken a liking to the new dog.

The pair will receive additional formal training for 16 hours each month. Carlson is learning how to alter the pitch in his voice and the tugs and pulls on the leash to give commands and praise. The training is not as easy as he expected.

“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my career,” he said.

Carlson said he has wanted to be involved in a K-9 unit since he started his career, and when the opportunity came up last year, he was excited to apply for it. Local sponsors for the dog include The Feed Loft, Puppy Cuts, Mallard Point Veterinary Care and Camz Communications.