Two four-legged deputies visited with the Marshall Lions Club recently as the club presented the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office with a $5,000 donation for its ongoing K9 program fundraiser.
Mojo, a veteran of the K9 force, and Remi, one of the newest recruits, were brought to the club’s meeting Tuesday with their respective handlers, deputies Richard Koller and Matt Argenbright.
“You can see the friendly nature of these lab dogs and they are not going to be trained in any manner as attack dogs,” Harrison County Sheriff Tom McCool said about Remi during a brief presentation on the program. “They’ll strictly be used for detection and tracking.”
McCool, in an overview of the program, explained that the goal of his office was to have a K9 offer available during each of the department’s five patrol shifts. With four dogs, they are currently at 80 percent of reaching that goal.
“This donation will go toward the enhancement of our K9 program ...,” the sheriff said. “We have five patrol shifts so we wanted at least five of these K9s available for drug interdiction and discovery and so forth as well as officer protection.”
The office is seeking to have two types of dogs available for use by officers.
“Most of the time, we utilize what we call a ‘bite dog’ for running search warrants and so forth, and those are well-planned events,” McCool explained. “What we wanted was two types of dogs. We wanted extra bite dogs and we wanted some dogs that we felt comfortable with utilizing in our schools, in our businesses, where nobody would get hurt.”
K9 Mojo, a 9-year-old Malinois, belongs to longtime HCSO Sgt. Forrest Mitchell, with both having worked with the department for a number of years.
“Mojo has proven his worth for many, many years,” McCool said. “(He) has seen a lot of activity in his life. He is getting toward the end of his professional career.”
Remi, a copper-colored labrador, was given to the sheriff’s office by a local businessperson.
“Not only that, (the donor) paid for half of the training that (Remi) will receive in Little Rock beginning the end of this month,” McCool said. “She will be going to Little Rock for tracking and narcotics detection training for a 13-day period. Then our handler will go up and spend about a week working with her.”
Another recent addition to the K9 force is a black labrador from Poland, Hank.
“That dog is valued at around $10,000,” the sheriff said. “We currently have a deputy, Kaylee Wallace, in Little Rock matching with that dog.
“Wallace is a graduate of Texas A&M University in animal science and also has a vet tech certification. She works with Dr. (Robert) Tiller in her off time, so she is probably one of the most qualified individuals you could ever find to take care of one of these K9s.”
A fourth dog, a black Malinois named Pato, will be utilized mainly as a building search and crowd control dog. His handler is deputy Eric Harman.
The ultimate goal, McCool said, is to have one more dog and to eventually replace Mojo.
“We think it is going to be very beneficial not only to all law enforcement agencies in Marshall and Harrison County, but to all of our schools,” McCool said about the K9 program. “We offer this service on a regular basis, not timed, not scheduled, but frequently seen in our schools to try to create a deterrent to any of these youngsters bringing in illegal narcotics to our campuses.
“So, we hope to work with our school administrators very closely in this coming year.”
McCool thanked the club for their generosity and support.
“The entire community’s support and generosity has just been outstanding,” he said. “Of course, I had to get into a dunking booth a few times. I gladly did so and we had a lot of fun.”