This story was written with permission from Bill Froehlick. Much of the information was taken from an interview he did on “The Afternoon Drive” on WTCM NewsTalk 580 with Deputy Derek Morton.
After the sudden death of the Grand Traverse County K9, Janusz, in late January from a fatal twisted intestine, the County was able to utilize other dogs available in the area including the K9 officers from Traverse City. Those K9s are one of 12 to 14 K9 teams in the area including some from Benzie and Kalkaska counties. Grand Traverse County K9 units are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to serve the needs of the citizens and visitors of Grand Traverse county and are in high demand.
K9 Officer Janusz was a German Shepherd born in February of 2008 and he was partnered with Deputy Derek Morton for a little over four years, starting his service in August of 2009. Janusz function within the police department was to track missing people, explosives detection, criminal apprehensions, recovery of evidence and handler protection. As well as being a valued member of the police force and the community, Janusz was also very loved by Morton’s family at home, including his three children who Janusz liked to herd and keep a watchful eye on. Although Morton has three kids running around the house, he still noted that it is “quiet” without Janusz there.
Both the Morton family and the Grand Traverse Sheriffs Department are looking forward to finding another K9 partner for Morton. The new K9 couldn’t replace Janusz, but it would have his or her own special place everyone’s life. Morton, always a dog lover, used to have Labs for bird hunting. When he was able to be paired up with Janusz and be part of a K9 unit, he was very excited. Although mourning the loss of his family member and partner, he is looking ahead to meeting his new K9 to do the job he loves.
With the help of a $9,000 grant from the Oleson Foundation, the Sheriff’s Department will be able to purchase the dog and the training needed to acquire a new K9. The money also covers the costs of transportation, vet care and other additional services and supplies. The K9 will come from the Mid Michigan Kennels in Eaton Rapids who get them overseas from Poland. The K9s are trained in Poland and then matched up with human police offers in Eaton Rapids. After a match is made, the K9 units train together for five weeks. The dogs are approximately 10-16 months old, still very much a puppy. After the K9 is brought home with his partner, the K9 units never stop training. They do about 20 hours a month of continual reinforced training so that the K9s will continue to respond quickly to the handlers and be up to speed on law enforcement techniques.
The K9s in Grand Traverse County, in addition to their police duties, are also very visible in the community, often attending pet events, grand openings and school functions, giving demonstrations and explaining how important K9 units are for the County residents. The K9s even get their names on the police cars. The new K9 will be a Dual Detection officer, doing explosives detection as well as patrol tracking (people) looking for bad guys and people who are lost and also doing article searches.
Although the K9s have not been shipped from Poland yet due to weather conditions, Morton is hoping that will happen soon and that he may have a new partner by late April or May.
If you’d like to learn more about the Grand Traverse County K9 units, please click here.
Tagged: K9 officer Grand Traverse county