The Valdosta Police Department has added a new member to its team filled with dedication, drive, and a lot of fluff. Iva is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois that now works alongside K-9 handler James Turner.
Turner has been with the Police Department for almost six years. Initially, he started as a Patrol Officer but has since transitioned into the K-9 unit, where he has worked for the past three years. Recently Turner and Iva completed a nine-week course in New Market, Alabama, designed for K-9 instructors. Not only did this course assist the pair with additional skill sets such as narcotic detection, tracking, and apprehension while on the job, but once the course was completed, Officer Turner officially received Iva as his new partner.
Though the two got off to a rocky start due to Iva’s nerves, they have since formed a very emotional connection.
“Once she began to trust me a little more, we formed an emotional relationship, and it has been going very well. You can tell that she is eager to please me and do what I need her to do. She is a thinker, and I can see the wheels constantly turning in her head,” said Turner.
With the completion of his training, Turner can now not only keep Iva up to date on her skills, but he can also train the new Police Dogs as they arrive at VPD. Both new handlers and dogs must complete a significant amount of training before joining and while on the unit. New Handlers must complete an eight-week course as well as the dogs separately. From there, the pair is required to do at least 16 hours of training monthly to keep skills refreshed.
There are currently a total of seven dogs in the K-9 unit; five serve as dual purpose, one for explosives and firearm detection, and one comfort dog.