@PGFDPIO Twitter

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

USMC/Afghanistan Experienced Explosive Canine Joins PGFD - Shaggy's Story

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department and Office of the Fire Marshall recently obtained a new tool for the toolbox.  The Departments new tool is a highly trained and experienced canine that worked with the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in Afghanistan in addition to a new handler.

This story starts at a dog training facility in North Carolina. K2 Solutions Inc. initially trains dogs as bird dogs for off leash directional control. Once the basic training is complete, K2 imprints the dogs with specific odors depending on a client's needs.

In the canine detection world, these off-leash detection dogs are the cutting edge of the industry. K2 had a contract with the USMC to supply explosive detection dogs for their use in Afghanistan. The USMC chose this company and this type of dog training because the dogs' independence would allow them to be sent out by Marines for 200+ yards to detect explosives. 

Shaggy is a 6-year-old black Labrador retriever and one of these K2-trained USMC dogs. During his USMC career, he has served 4 tours in Afghanistan. Shaggy and his handler would travel throughout Afghanistan in Humvees, tanks, or on marching patrols.  As they encountered suspicious vehicles, buildings, or open terrain, his handler would place Shaggy outside of the vehicle to clear the immediate area, and then the handler would step out. The handler would place Shaggy on a target to search, and Shaggy would head out to search for explosives. The handler could either let Shaggy do a free search, independent of the handler, or use directional control to search specific items or areas. If explosives were found, Shaggy would go into a cover or down position. This would help protect him from enemy fire often meant to kill the dog. Shaggy would be recalled when it was safe and the Bomb Technicians or other military personnel could neutralize the threat. 

Once Shaggy's military service was over, the Marines returned him and other dogs to K2. Here, the dogs were back in training where they would typically run six miles each day, and practice detecting explosives and other off leash drills. K2 decided to contact all US law enforcement agencies to offer them the dogs that still were able to continue to work. 

The Prince Georges County Police Department, Head Trainer, Sgt. Heverly and lead trainer, Cpl. Waldon visited K2 to study the specific requirements on how to train and keep these dogs. They returned with Shaggy, and 5 other dogs for the County Police, Park Police and the Office of the Fire Marshal. 

Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor attended the Canine/Handler graduation and stated, "Shaggy is a welcome addition to the Department and Office of the Fire Marshal.  The team of Scarlata and Shaggy will add an extra layer of protection for our personnel and the citizens of our great County."

Jamieson Scarlata, Fire/EMS Department Acting Lieutenant/Fire Investigator, was assigned as Shaggy's new handler.  “I went through an eight week basic explosive ordnance detection class given by Sgt. Heverly and Cpl. Waldon of the County Police Canine Unit,” said Scarlata. “We graduated from class on Friday, May 30, 2014.  Shaggy is a high-drive dog that loves to work. We are both eager to serve Prince Georges County and put into practice all that we have learned.”

Prince George's County Fire Investigators assigned to the Office of the Fire Marshal are experienced firefighters that have attended additional training to obtain numerous additional certifications.  Fire Investigators attend training offered by the ATF, FBI and the County Police.  Investigators graduate from the County Police Academy and are certified Police Officers upon completion.  They have powers of arrest and have primary responsibility for crimes of Arson and Explosives in the County.  The Fire/EMS Department also has primary responsibility for operation of the Bomb Squad.

Although they are certified police officers that are still members of the Fire/EMS Department and the Office of the Fire Marshal, a fact often confused by media writers and editors.

All images are provided courtesy of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department

Deputy Fire Chief Scott K. Hoglander with Scarlata during graduation from PGPD Canine School.

Acting Lieutenant/Fire Investigator Scarlata with Shaggy

Scarlata puts Shaggy to work searching for explosives.


Shaggy works to detect explosives during a exercise

Shaggy works to detect explosives during a exercise

Shaggy works to detect explosives during a exercise

Shaggy indicates to handler of a "hit"

No comments:

Post a Comment