Stockton K-9 team brings national title home to NJ
Freya, a 6-year-old golden retriever, and handler Lt. Tracy Stuart competed in the United States Police Canine Association National Detector Dog Trials in Georgia last week. And they won.
The competition involves narcotics, accelerant and explosives detection dogs in Lowndes County, Georgia, Sept. 18-23. The Stockton University duo faced explosives detection teams from all levels, including local, county, state, federal and military K-9 units.
The teams were tested in general odor recognition as well as searching parcels, vehicles and rooms. The competition tests both the handler and the dog who must work together to locate the hidden explosives.
Stockton’s team took first-place honors in the parcel and vehicle searches and placed first overall in the explosives detection competition.
“I take every opportunity to train with Freya—anywhere we can.” Stuart said. “I expose her to different settings and environments to improve her situational adaptability, proficiency and overall effectiveness.”
As soon as Freya picks up on an odor that she has been trained to recognize, she alerts Stuart by sitting down and focusing her attention on the location.
“K-9s in general are an amazing tool for law enforcement. Besides their incredible scent capabilities, these dogs are loyal, protective, intelligent and skilled,” Stuart said. “They are attuned to human emotions. Freya is all of those things and so much more to me. It is truly a blessing to say she is my K-9 partner.”
The Stockton University Police K-9 team is part of the NJ Detect and Render Safe Task Force and provides assistance in explosives detection operations both locally and statewide.
Stuart and Freya will also be featured in a documentary on the competition, showing a handler’s day-to-day experience as they prepare for the detection dog competition. The show will air on ESPN in November.
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