Second K-9 team in the works

PARKERSBURG -The Wood County Sheriff’s Office will soon be welcoming another four-legged member to the force.

Chief Deputy Shawn Graham with the sheriff’s office said the decision to get another canine was made to help control the drug problem in the Mid-Ohio Valley. He said he and Sheriff Ken Merritt decided to award the dog to Deputy Zack Schaad. Schaad has been with the department for three years and previously worked for the Vienna Police Department.

“It takes a very dedicated officer,” Graham said of handling K-9 operations. “A lot of training comes with it.”

The department has one K-9 unit operated by Deputy Mike Deem. Deem has had Benji, a 4-year old German Shepherd, since the dog was about a year old.

A police canine runs in the family as Mike Deem’s brother, Mark, worked with the K-9 unit in Vienna as well, Graham said.

Graham said he had a canine and believes the dedication Schaad has shown the sheriff’s office proves his worthiness for the animal.

Once the new dog becomes certified (which will take about six weeks of training), the deputy will train with him for about six weeks and then he will be assigned to road patrol duty.

Steven Heater with Pine Grove Kennel of Reedsville, Ohio, trains the dogs that are sent to police departments, Graham said.

Heater is a retired deputy with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and K-9 coordinator for the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. He has trained more than 300 police canines and has been a K-9 handler since 1995.

“Once the dog is certified, we hope he will be a great asset in locating and assisting drug operations,” Graham said.