Benny, the newest K-9 for the Labette County Sheriff’s Office, began work in March with his handler, Deputy Timothy Gilliland.
Benny, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, began March 8 after completing 160 hours of training with Gilliland at Canine Unlimited of Tulsa. Benny is the only K-9 working for the sheriff’s office at the time. The sheriff’s office formerly had two K-9s: Memphis and Gustaw. Memphis has retired and Gustaw is going to retire as soon as a suitable home or facility can be found for him.
Gilliland praised Benny, “good boy” and “he’s a good boy,” for good behavior. Benny received lots of looks and attention when preparing for a photo outside the Parsons Senior Center as the Quilters’ Guild of Parsons arrived for its spring tea.
Gilliland said he and Benny work 12-hour shifts for the sheriff’s office. There are plenty of bathroom breaks for the Malinois, training stops and playtime. The training maintains obedience and keeps Benny sharp. Gilliland said they train with drugs and article searches each shift as time allows.
“We try to. Sometimes we don’t get to all the training,” Gilliland said, depending of workload.
“I try to do as much training as I can throughout my shift. And then there’s times where I just let him out to be a dog, run around.”
Benny responds to Gilliland’s commands in Dutch. He understands sit, down, heel, bite, out and other commands. Free just means he can leave Gilliland’s side to chase his toy.
Gilliland said Benny is “wound for sound” when his shift starts. The dog is high-energy and loves to run. Gilliland has various collars to keep Benny close depending on the situation.
In 2022, when Sheriff Darren Eichinger was looking for someone to be the next K-9 handler, Gilliland said he quickly agreed.
“I’m naturally a dog guy. So driving around with a dog in the back of my Durango or Expedition would be a good time for me,” Gilliland said.
The training schedule between Feb. 6 and March 3 was difficult, driving to and from Tulsa five days a week for the eight-hour days.
“That drive was terrible,” he said, but the weather for the most part was perfect. The time together developed a strong bond between the two, he said.
Benny is trained to detect marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. He’s also trained in tracking, article searches, building searches and bite work (apprehension).
If someone tosses something from a car into a field, Benny could help find it. If someone flees, Benny can track them by sight and scent. If someone runs from a traffic stop and is a danger to deputies or the public, Benny could be deployed to apprehend that person and perhaps bite him or her. When biting, Benny latches onto an arm or leg and hangs on until released by Gilliland.
The deputy said Benny will make quick work of apprehending someone running from a traffic stop.
“Benny’s a lot faster than I am. He’s a lot faster than anyone that’s going to run from him, too.”
Gilliland said just recently Benny helped locate a man in Coffeyville who needed medical attention. The track took a matter of minutes before Benny found the man and emergency workers got him the medical help he needed. To track someone, Benny is shown the last known area where the person was seen and he tracks the person by his or her scent.
Benny has detected meth and marijuana in multiple traffic stops.
In his time off, Gilliland said there is a lot of maintenance work that goes with being a K-9 handler. But he’s used to the work as he and his wife have dogs.
“It doesn’t bother me because I have a German shepherd and a mini schnauzer, so it’s just another day in the life basically.”
Gilliland hopes to continue working with Benny until Benny retires. He hopes he can take Benny home after that because of the special bond they share. He hopes the K-9 work will help his law enforcement career as well.
Gilliland started in law enforcement as a corrections officer at the Labette County Jail. He then worked for Chetopa Police Department for three years before joining the sheriff’s office in 2019.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.