Canine Agents (ATF) - Behind The Scenes
We learned so much when we spent an afternoon more than a year ago with special agent canine handlers and their canine partners from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that we wanted to find out how things were going with them these days. Jeff Perryman of the Special Response Team (SRT) canine program was gracious enough to send us an update:
“In 2008, we trained three more SRT canine teams. The dogs—Reno, Nash, and Baron—are based in Detroit, Miami, and Washington, DC. We trained all three at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. The FLETC is a state-of-the-art training facility where agents from more than 80 agencies train their new recruits. We are the only federal agency approved by the FLETC director to train our dogs at this facility. The handlers and dogs worked six to seven days a week for almost eight weeks.
“My dog, Brody, enjoyed training with the new dogs, but he didn’t like when the other dogs got to train and he had to wait his turn. We used Brody to show the new handlers how to properly train and deploy with their dogs and also to demonstrate what a properly trained canine should look like.
“The primary training tips I always give are simply to make sure your canine partner is having fun, and give him plenty of love and affection throughout the training process. The more fun the dogs have, the more they want to train, work, and simply please their handler.”
An SRT operation can encompass many types of assignments, including executing high-risk federal search and arrest warrants, providing cover during a high-risk undercover operation, and search-and-rescue operations after a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
All the dogs play an integral role in any SRT operation. As Jeff explains, “They help us safely secure violent felons without anyone getting hurt.” Their duties may include discouraging a violent suspect from attempting to flee a scene, searching buildings and areas for suspects, and tracking suspects who have fled in rural areas.
“ATF’s SRT operators are some of the most highly trained tactical operators in the country,” Jeff says, “and we’ll participate in any operation that our agency requests in order to increase public safety.”
How Is Brody Doing?
Jeff helps manage the SRT canine program, selecting and training new dogs and handlers. He also works with his dog, Brody, throughout the country. The last time we spoke with Jeff, Brody had been diagnosed with a tumor attached to his spine, and Jeff wasn’t sure whether his canine partner would be able to work again. This time, Jeff sent us brighter news:
Brody’s health is great. The tumor did quite a bit of damage, but the surgeons did a wonderful job. Brody has been back on active duty for almost a year now.
After the surgery, Brody had to be kept virtually immobile for two weeks. After that, I was allowed to begin taking him on short walks. I took him back to the office, where he was happy to see our coworkers. Over the next several weeks, I helped him slowly recover and get back to training.
Brody was so happy to start working again. The most difficult part of the process was trying to keep him immobile, and thus keep him from doing any damage to the surgically repaired discs. But once we got going again, he was back to his old self.
According to the surgeons, we may soon begin to see a deterioration of those discs that were ravaged by the tumor. Thus, we try to keep his impact training to a minimum. When he begins to show signs of any type of pain, we plan to retire him. Once retired, Brody will still live with me and accompany me to the office, but for his own safety will no longer be allowed to work.