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Fulda Memorial Library PAWS for Reading participants learn about Canine Deputy Abbey

June 19, 2014

  Officer Brian Gass explains the training Canine Officer Abbey received at Midwest Canine in Iowa. 
Officer Brian Gass explains the training Canine Officer Abbey received at Midwest Canine in Iowa.
By Norma Dittman
On Wednesday afternoon at the Fulda Memorial Library PAWS for Reading program, Murray County Officer Brian Gass and Canine Officer Abbey were guests of honor.

Officer Gass introduced Canine Officer Abbey explaining that she has been trained at Midwest Canine in Iowa to track lost persons and find drugs.

Officer Abbey went through six months of training before taking two weeks of training with Officer Gass. Her training continues on a four-hour maintenance basis every week. Officer Gass said that she has to be certified every year to be able to be a canine officer.

Officer Abbey is a black labrador mix who was a rescue dog. Officer Gass has had her as a partner for the past one and one-half years. Because Officer Abbey is a rescue dog, her true age is unknown. It is believed that she is about four years of age.

“Officer Abbey cost Murray County $5,000 due to the extensive training that she has had. She works on certain commands from me. She is a working dog, so if you ever see us out in the public and we are working, do not come up to us. She is very focused when given a command,” Officer Gass instructed. “Part of Officer Abbey’s training is to be able to learn the difference between when she is working and when she is allowed to associate with others. She lives with me and my family. Her time in the house is limited because she is a working dog and not a pet.”

Officer Gass explained that the vehicle he uses for himself and Officer Abbey is equipped with special equipment just for the canine officer. “It has a heat sensor, that if Officer Abbey is in the car and it gets too hot in there, the windows will roll down. The horn will also start to honk to alert me to the fact that the interior of the vehicle is too warm for Officer Abbey. You see that she also has her own kennel inside of the vehicle.”

Officer Gass worked with Canine Officer Bailey, the first canine officer that Murray County purchased until he became nine years of age. He explained that Officer Bailey’s agility had become limited and a new canine officer was needed. “Officer Abbey can run for about two and one-half miles before he has to stop her and give her a break. We don’t really want her to have to go beyond that when she is in a hunt mode, because she will keep going until she injures herself. I have to stay in shape to keep up with her so I run several miles per week,” he said.

“The Murray County Commissioners and the Sheriff really saw how valuable a canine officer is when we had Officer Bailey and they decided to continue with the program. It is a great experience to be a partner to a canine officer. You become attached to them very easily,” Officer Gass stated.

After answering all of the questions that the PAWS for Reading participants had for them, Officer Gass and Officer Abbey returned to duty while the children went into Fulda Memorial Library for more reading time and a fun obstacle course.

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