GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Police dogs are a vital part of the Gulfport Police Force.
"They help supplement what our officers do on patrol. They bring a skill set a person can't really have," Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said. "A lot of ours is what they call patrol dogs, where they assist the officer in searching for people, searching for buildings, looking for articles that may have been discarded and ultimately could become a piece of evidence. They also do tracking work when you have someone flee."
K9 officers, like human officers, must undergo intense training to be prepared to aid and protect their partners in any situation.
"It's a very valuable relationship and one you have to pay attention to," Papania said. "Just like two people working together, we have found some officers work better with one officer than another and it's about relationships."
Fred has been with the Gulfport Police Department for about two years now. His first partner left the department, so he was paired with another officer.
"That dog is an excellent police dog, but the fit with the handler isn't quite there," Papania said. "USK9 Unlimited, who we get our dogs from, had come over and done some work with it and ultimately said, 'Let's try this dog with another handler, and [give] your handler a new dog.'"
The three-year-old black Belgian Malinois is not retiring from police work. In fact, the Harrison County Sheriff's Department plans to buy Fred from USK9 Unlimited.
"I think, ultimately, both of them will be in better relationships and excel and be able to do the things we look for," Papania said.
Fred will be sent back to USK9 Unlimited in Louisiana on Tuesday and later this week sheriff's deputies plan to pick him up and begin training him with one of their patrol deputies.