K-9 officer Agent joins the Ellsworth Police

ELLSWORTH —A 1-year-old Labrador retriever has a new job with the Ellsworth Police Department, as does Officer John Stanley, who is in the midst of training police K-9 Agent on his new responsibilities.

“The training is so in-depth,” Stanley said, standing in front of City Hall, while Agent strained at his leash to investigate nearby hedge bushes. “You can never learn enough.”

Training a K-9 police dog takes 300 to 500 hours for certification, and Stanley and Agent have 80 of those hours behind them.

“Really, it’s pretty simple for a dog,” Stanley said of learning to search and track. “They find that scent and they’ll get rewarded.”

A police dog doesn’t know legal from illegal; it only knows to track the scent its handler commands it to search for.

“It’s all a game to a dog,” Stanley said. “They don’t know the difference.”

But when Agent is fully trained, he will be able to detect illegal drugs (not marijuana) along with tracking and searching for dropped evidence such as guns or other items.

A three-year veteran with the EPD, Stanley said he was happy to be assigned as a K-9 handler, a position that normally spans the K-9’s police career or about 8 to 10 years.

With Agent “still a puppy” at 1 year old, his energy level appears boundless.

“He bounces all over the place and gets bursts of energy,” Stanley said. “He’s also very active, very agile, and runs and jumps on everything.”

And while jumping on tables might garner a stern reprimand for a house dog, for a police K-9, that type of behavior is precisely what is called for on the job.

“They still get obedience training but it’s just really different,” Stanley said, who has a yellow Labrador at home who is not allowed on the furniture.

Stanley selected Agent from a candidate pool of 10 dogs, with help from Capt. Shawn Willey and the lead trainers at the K-9 academy in southern Maine.

“Agent had that energy and drive to do anything and everything,” Stanley said. “I think he’s going to be good dog. It’s just a matter of getting his energy in the right direction.”

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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