New K-9 officer Kaiser waited patiently while his handler, Deputy Eric Ralls, answered questions from 3rd graders at Anna Junior High School on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Photo by Amber Skelton.Students could ask the deputy questions about new Union County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9. Photo by Amber Skelton.Deputy Eric Ralls and Kaiser shared a friendly moment together. Photo by Amber Skelton.Kaiser is the Union County Sheriff’s Office’s new K-9 officer.

Sheriff’s new K-9 visits Anna school

Learning came to life for a group of 3rd grade students at Anna Junior High School when they got a visit from the Union County Sheriff Office’s newest officer on Wednesday, Feb. 15. 

Newly acquired K-9 Kaiser stopped by with his handler, Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Eric Ralls, to give the kids a look into the life of a police dog.

The classes recently read the nonfiction book titled “Aero and Officer Mike” by Joan Plummer Russell, which tells the experiences of another officer-dog team.

Kids asked how Kaiser’s life was compared to the dog in the book.

Ralls explained that the skills Kaiser knows are work-related, that his activities are tracked in a log and that he eats one large meal a day at the end of his shift. Kaiser also lives with Ralls and sleeps in a special kennel in the yard each night.

Kaiser is a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois born in Mexico and has been on the job with the sheriff’s department in Jonesboro for two weeks. 

He trained for two and a half months at Little Rock K-9 Academy located in Little Rock, Ark.

Kaiser’s time at the academy was spent learning commands and appropriate behavior in a reward system that doesn’t involve food. Instead, every time Kaiser performed a command correctly, he was rewarded with his own ball to play with. 

The academy’s program also included two weeks in which Ralls learned how to handle Kaiser. The pair will continue to train together through Kaiser’s first year on the job.

Kaiser is very well trained, but not just anyone can control him. The commands Ralls uses with him are in Dutch, because that was the language spoken where Kaiser was initially worked with.

Kaiser’s academy work has prepared him for standard patrol functions, tracking and narcotics protection.

The sheriff’s department previously had to rely on police dogs from surrounding counties for routine school narcotic checks. Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel said that they will continue to do so as Kaiser trains, because drug tracking is hard on the dogs and using more than one will lighten the load for each canine.

Kaiser’s work has already led to two drug-related arrests.

The cost of acquiring and training Kaiser was around $10,000, but it’s worth it, Ralls said. “He’s gonna bring in a lot of money in drug charges.”

A student asked where an arrested person would ride in the police car. 

Not in the back seat with Kaiser, Ralls said. “He’s not the most friendly guy to ride in the back of the car with. He takes up a lot of room and he stinks.” 

Another officer would arrive on the scene to pick up the offender, Ralls said.

The students were very interested in how Kaiser is taken care of. Ralls explained that the dog gets regular check-ups with Dr. Charles Haire at his veterinary clinic in Jonesboro and would be taken there in an emergency.

Ralls told the kids that if Kaiser hadn’t already been named, he “probably would’ve named him Chaos because he has a lot of energy.”

The pair works off that energy with breaks throughout the day. Ralls takes Kaiser to a nearby park and lets him chase a ball or play with his favorite toy.

“He likes to dance, too,” Ralls joked when Kaiser jumped up on two paws.

The pair hopes to return to the school when the weather warms up to do an outside demonstration of K-9 training techniques.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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