K-9s nose around ABC Newspaper building

A pair of dogs were nosing around the ABC Newspapers/Anoka County Shopper last week.

Sunny receives some food from Sgt. J.D. Wellnitz after successfully finding explosives hidden during a training session at the ABC Newspapers/Anoka County Shopper building. Photo by Kelly Johnson

Sunny receives some food from Sgt. J.D. Wellnitz after successfully finding explosives hidden during a training session at the ABC Newspapers/Anoka County Shopper building. Photo by Kelly Johnson

And for good reason.

They were searching for three packages of explosives hidden throughout the Coon Rapids building as part of a planned training exercise.

The K-9s and their handlers do such training exercises weekly to keep the dogs prepared for their jobs with the Minnesota State Patrol and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Training April 12 were Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brian Collier and Mesa and Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. J.D. Wellnitz and Sunny.

It was the explosive detection canines’ job to find three packages of explosives hidden in three separate areas of the building.

Sunny, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador, went first and was rewarded with food for each successful find.

Wellnitz and Sunny have been partners for six years. The pair must train daily as Sunny is only fed as a reward for a successful search.

Mesa, a four-year-old black Labrador, has been paired with Collier for just over two years. For each successful find, Mesa is rewarded with some play time. Collier tosses her a ball and gives her a good tummy rub.

The training is something that happens weekly in private businesses and other locations.

One of the keys is to expose the dogs to a wide variety of people and places to keep their skills in top shape.

“We want our dogs to go into any environment,” Collier said.

According to Collier, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office has three patrol dogs, one drug-sniffing dog for the jails and one narcotics dog, with Mesa as the office’s only explosives detection dog.

Wellnitz said the Minnesota State Patrol has a total of 14 dogs, with 13 trained to find narcotics and Sunny the only explosives detection dog.

Kelly Johnson is at kelly.johnson@ecm-inc.com


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