RAWLINS, Wyo. — If dogs truly are man’s best friend, Rawlins Police Department Drug Detection K-9 handler David Greninger might just have one of the best partners in the world. Greninger and his partner Bella, a certified drug detection Vizsla, started working together in 2016 and have been side by side ever since.
Unlike most K-9 teams, Greninger and Bella went through 120 hours of training together prior to becoming certified.
Greninger said the training helped them grow closer and faster than most due to the unusual format.
“A lot of places buy the dogs from places that already have them certified,” he said. “Then, they just teach the handler to be familiar with the dog.”
Greninger said Bella was originally a family pet of a former officer but was donated to the station when the officer left.
The team gained its certification together Dec. 31, 2016 and has continued to train 16 hours a month ever since.
When the team is not training, they spend time patrolling the streets of Rawlins like any other patrol team. Greninger said the biggest difference is they help multiple law enforcement agencies with drug searches.
“The only difference is you have the Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Carbon County Sheriff’s office and the Rawlins City Police Department,” he said. “Anytime during the day they (can) call us.”
Fellow officer Chad Bracken said agencies mainly call in the K-9 unit during traffic stops.
“It is amazing to see the type of skills dogs have, specifically with their nose,” Bracken said. “It is crazy to see the animals detect the kind of stuff that humans can’t.”
Bracken said the support comes in handy on the road due to time restraints. He said officers are only allowed a certain amount of time to hold someone in a traffic stop and trained K-9 units can help determine whether or not there are drugs present in a short amount of time.
Greninger said the team usually assists in a minimum of 10 drug searches each month.
Outside of work, Bella is given the opportunity to be a normal dog, Greninger said.
“At home, we play a lot of tug-of-war,” he said. “She will get up on the couch and cuddle with you.”
Greninger added Bella oftentimes sleeps on the bed with his wife and him, but also spends a lot of time with his children. Greninger said he has two other family dogs, but his son sees Bella as his favorite.
The work/family relationship does not come without its difficulties.
Greninger said the paperwork that comes with Bella can stack up at times and make days difficult.
“It is a pain in the butt to keep up with all the training hours,” he said. “If I go out and do some training and get dispatched, I have to log the style of training and that takes 45 minutes just to log that.”
Still, Greninger said he would not trade his partner for anything. The Rawlins Police Department has a second K-9 team in Sgt. Christopher Craig and Nacho. The teams alternate shifts and are sometimes called in if both teams are off duty.
Information from: Rawlins (Wyo.) Daily Times, http://www.rawlinstimes.com