Headland Police K9 Harlow

MICHELE W. FOREHAND/DOTHAN EAGLE

Headland Police School Resource Officer Bethany Hicks and K9 Harlow perform routine locker checks and hallway checks Tuesday at Headland Middle School.

The Headland Police Department welcomes its new officer K9 Harlow, who officially joined the department last month.

The department’s acquisition of Harlow was made possible by the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF), a nonprofit whose mission is to secure equality, compassion and justice for all individuals. One of AFF’s key initiatives is its Police Dog Grant program which works in conjunction with the Sector K9 Training Facility in Midlothian, Texas.

Although the dogs in the program are not purebred canines, they are typically trained as K9s. The dogs are selected from shelters based on a rigorous screening process.

Harlow may be a rescue dog, but he is trained and ready to sniff out narcotics at Headland Middle School, Headland Ninth Grade Academy, and Headland High School.

“Harlow is a 2 year-old pit mix,” said Headland Police School Resource Office Bethany Hicks. “He is still learning, but he is good at what he does. Harlow is trained to sniff out narcotics such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. Once he smells the drugs, he then alerts me by sitting down.”

Harlow is also trained to alert his handler if he smells gunpowder, said Headland Police Chief Mark Jones.

“Having a K9 in our schools is a huge benefit,” Jones said. “His main job is to keep the schools safe and free from drugs, and he is doing a fine job. The Headland Police Department is pleased to welcome our newest member and we are blessed to work with the Animal Farm Foundation.”

Linda Saffold, principal of Headland Middle School, said Harlow’s talent goes beyond serving as a detection dog.

“Harlow is trained to detect narcotics, but he brings so much more to Headland Middle School than that,” Saffold said. “Since his arrival, the students are calmer, and I believe his presence is serving as a prevention tool. I just can’t say enough about Officer Hicks and Harlow.”

According to AFF and Sector K9, detection dogs act as a powerful deterrent to crime and build bridges between students and law enforcement personnel. The K9s also work with police officers on community and highway patrols, sniffing out dangerous drugs that can lead to overdoses and crime.

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Follow Michele Forehand on Twitter @micheleforehan1

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