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Behind the scenes of K-9 officer training

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 18:20:22-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- For most of us heading to work is not the same as play time, but for some highly skilled officers every day on the job is a pleasure. Even when a day of work calls for sniffing out explosives.

Thor is a five year old Belgian Malinois K-9 officer. "He's trained in patrol, apprehension work, and bomb detection," explained West Palm Beach police officer Jim Sniffen. Thor has been by Sniffen's side for four years. "When I brought Thor home he didn't know how to sit, he wasn't even house broken."

Sniffen and Thor train two days a week. " We do one day a week patrol training and one day of detection training," Sniffen detailed. For Thor training is playtime, even when practicing dangerous tasks like finding hidden explosives. "To them it is a game, to them everything about work is a game and the only reason they do it is because it's fun to them."

On this particular day Thor was training with fellow K-9 officer Diesel, a five and half year old long haired German Shepard. Diesel's handler is West Palm Beach officer Jonatan Price who has been with the department for 17 years. Diesel is his second K-9. "We got him from Denver, Indiana so it was an adjustment for him from that cold weather coming down here," Price said.

Diesel worked on patrol training which deals with bite work and apprehension. "Mostly on the patrol side we'll use the dogs searching for suspects that have already run from us," Price explained. "Putting the dog out there first before the officers go in."

Once diesel gets his suspect, he's trained not to let go.

"Diesel obviously has been involved in numerous apprehensions of felony suspects," said Price. But taking down suspects is not what drives the 125 pound giant. "You know they work for that toy they love it and that's what they come out here every day for."

Thor and Diesel are just two of the five K-9s at the West Palm Beach Police Department being honored this Friday at the 'Chips for Charity' benefit for Save A Pet. The dogs will kick off the event with a demonstration. The event raises funds for emergency vet care, feeding programs and animal adoptions. For tickets or more information visit saveapet.com or call 561-835-9525.