Certifications are held annually or whenever a handler change occurs in order to ensure MWDs are competent and able to detect trained odors.
“Basically, we’re able to find every odor that we have in our explosives kit, and we’re able to do it at an efficient pace,” said Staff Sgt. Trenton Clark, MWD handler assigned to 90 SFS.
Clark and his MWD, Robi, have been working together for seven months.
“This is my second dog here, and he has been a fun, interesting adventure,” said Clark.
Clark was specifically looking to find “very high independence” out of Robi during certification.
“I want to get to the point where I don’t have to make too many presentations, and essentially he does everything himself with me having to step in very little,” said Clark.
Presentations are nonverbal gestures given by the handler that cue for MWDs to search a specific location.
“I want to eliminate that as much as possible and let him do everything himself, and then I can come in and hit the places that he missed,” said Clark.
MWDs need to be properly certified while identifying illicit drugs in order for criminal prosecutions to hold up in court.
“If it comes to a court process, the certification of that dog is going to be in question to see if that dog was legitimately certified in order to prove that we had a legitimate need to search that vehicle,” said Maj. Kiel Luber, 90 SFS commander.
He finds satisfaction in working around the K-9 unit.
“I love every dog here that I’ve ever worked with,” said Luber. “It is so awesome to see what these dogs are able to do and see the relationships between the handlers and the K-9s themselves because they all have different personalities.”
There are currently eight dogs on base that serve as a psychological deterrent to support the nuclear mission.