After five years on the force, Dewey Beach Pfc. Dylan Ebke was looking for something fulfilling in his career when he was chosen to be the handler for new K-9 Jasper.
“Having a four-legged companion seals the deal and opens the door to more opportunities,” he said.
Jasper, a 1.5-year-old German shepherd purebred, is so friendly that more people will be willing to come up and talk to him, Ebke said, which will bridge a gap between police and members of the community.
What makes the partnership even more special is that Jasper is a rescue dog.
“It’s humbling,” Ebke said. “I’m grateful to be able to take this on.”
In September, Chief Constance Speake learned about a private grant for a fully trained narcotics detection/trailing/article search K-9 that would also include two weeks of free training for the selected handler.
The police department was awarded the grant by Highland K-9 Training Center in North Carolina, which received Jasper as a turn-in when he was 8 months old. Trainers there evaluated him for working viability and found he has a high prey drive, meaning he has the drive and nose to locate imprinted items.
“They gave him a second chance at life,” Ebke said of the training center.
Instructors first taught Ebke how to train Jasper in basic obedience, and how to work together in narcotics searches and article detection. Jasper’s nose is so sharp an item can sit for 45 minutes, and he can still pick up the scent and go.
“It gives you insight and a new respect for dogs,” Ebke said.
The duo worked its first shift together Nov. 13. Ebke said he will help Jasper settle into his new role by introducing him to the station and walking around town. Last weekend, Jasper enjoyed his first trip to the beach.
“He loved it,” Ebke said. “It’s fun getting to know him.”
Jasper loves playing tug-of-war, and cheese is his favorite treat.
“He knows when it comes out of the fridge,” Ebke smiled.
Speake said LESO funds will be used to purchase any needed equipment and transform a current cruiser for use as a K-9 car.
Jasper joins K-9 Smoke, who started working earlier this month with handler Cpl. Carl Kurten. Plans call for both service dogs to be sworn into their roles at the Friday, Nov. 17 commissioners meeting.