Over the last several weeks, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has added several new K-9 units.
The new K-9 program includes three new narcotics dogs and two tracking dogs. Two of the new drug dogs will be on the road full time, while the third narcotics dog will be used in DeKalb County and Fort Payne City Schools.
DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said the K-9 to be used in the schools is a lab named River, and is handled by SRO Sherri Johnson, who has years’ worth of experience in handling K-9s.
The other two narcotics dogs are a Dutch Shepherd, named “Switch,” handled by Sgt. Nathaniel Bates, and a Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, named “Dolly,” handled by Deputy Troy Fugatt.
Welden said the new units will join narcotics K-9 Marianna, who is handled by Deputy Hunter Akins. K-9 Marianna was the lone dog in the department before the new administration took office.
Welden said the tracking dogs are blood hounds named Moses and Alex and will be used in missing persons cases, as well as manhunts for dangerous fugitives. Moses is handled by Deputy Seth Cagle.
Alex is named after 11-year-old Amberly Alexis Barnett, who went missing and was found murdered earlier this year. Alex’s handler is PIO Deputy Tyler Pruett.
Welden said his office will also have another dog, Ari, available for tracking from McCreary K-9 Facility if needed.
Welden said Fort Payne City Schools Superintendent Jim Cunningham and DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett contributed to the new dogs, as well as House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R- Rainsville), Senator Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) and Probate Judge Ronnie Osborn.
Welden said numerous other businesses and organizations also contributed to make the new K-9 units possible. Micah McCreary of McCreary K-9 Facility also helped with the training and certifications.
“These new dogs are a great addition to our capabilities in both detecting narcotics and locating people,” Welden said. “River will also be great in our schools. She’ll be used by an SRO who is very experienced with K-9s.
“I’d also like to thank the citizens of our community who helped make these additional K-9s possible. God Bless.”