Sergeant Kenrick Bartlette Jr. is a K9 Specialist and Site Supervisor for Alexander Security Consultants and works primarily in Northeast DC with his dog Kilo, a Washington Humane Society (WHS) alumnus. A one-year-old pit bull type dog, Kilo was adopted in November 2012 and is now an official narcotics detection dog.
How did you get your start as a K9 Specialist?
I’ve been in the security business for many years, with a specialty in explosive detective work. I trained my first dog Harley, a German Shepherd, to be a narcotics dual purpose dog, trained in both narcotics detection and criminal apprehension.
What do you look for in a dog that has the potential to be a K9 Specialist?
The dog needs to have a strong play drive and a stable mind; be unafraid to go anywhere or be around loud noises. The dog has to be full of spunk with a lot of energy; willing to hunt for what he wants and have the stamina to keep searching until he finds it.
How would you respond to the people who think that narcotics detection dogs are forced to become addicted to the drugs that they are being trained to detect?
The dog would not get addicted, because the dog is not ingesting the drug. The smell does not harm the dogs, because it’s not in their system. All the narcotics are in safe containers and are handled carefully with rubber gloves. The dogs are trained with an un-harmful pseudo-drug which will have no effect on them, no matter how much it is inhaled. The real stuff is handled very carefully in a way that the dog could not get a hold of it.
What is the K9 training process like?
It’s mainly introducing the dog to the smell and associating it with a toy; he is going to look for the smell to get the toy or reward. We work with a psuedo (artificial) drug, but it has the same smell as the real thing. To confirm that the dogs have been trained to find the real thing, we test them in our facility that houses narcotics secured in zip-lock bags, or the dogs smell out towels that are soaked with the smell, but not the actual drug, so it minimizes their exposure to it.
How do you know if they’ve found something?
There are two types of alerts – aggressive alert (barking) and passive alert (sit and stare). I prefer the barking alert, because it’s more defined, and the dog is pinpointing their finding.
What was it about Kilo that made you adopt him for this job?
I was really upset when my dog Harley became sick and had to be put down. I was looking for another dog to train, but they usually didn’t have the drive. I went to look at eight dogs in one day, and Kilo wasn’t afraid of anything; all he wanted was the ball. I started introducing Kilo to the scent, and he picked it up right away.
Has Kilo had any big breaks?
A week before he was certified, he found a stash hidden in a plastic glove. Kilo now has his certification as a narcotics single purpose dog, trained to detect cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, and other types of drugs.
What do you want people to know about Kilo?
A dog like Kilo is a dog that will always save your life. He’s not a lazy dog; he’s always ready to go. I’m happy that I was there to adopt him and give him a chance. Kilo is right up there in my heart with Harley.
What do you want people to know about pit bull type dogs?
They get a bad name, but it’s truly how you take care of these dogs and what you do with them that makes them how they are. They can be social with everyone and are very trainable.
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