National Detector Dog Trials Set for April 2-5

The competition in Raleigh will feature dogs from local, state, and national law enforcement agencies, the military, and corrections departments.

North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation is hosting this year's United States Police Canine Association National Detector Dog Trials, which are set for April 2-5 in Raleigh. Police dogs such as Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and Belgium malinois are among the breeds being tested on their ability to detect narcotics, explosives, accelerants, or cadavers.

The state agency's K-9 Unit coordinator, criminal specialist Ken Mathias, is leading the event, which brings in dogs from local, state, and national law enforcement agencies, the military, and corrections departments.

"USPCA is the gold standard of police dog certification," he said. "They have some of the most rigorous standards in our profession, and this is a very prestigious competition. We are expecting more than 100 police K-9 teams from throughout the United States and Canada."

Detector dogs must prequalify at regional events to enter the more difficult national competition. Awards will be given from first to 15th places. SBI has 17 detector dogs statewide, and eight of them will be competing in the national trials.

SBI's announcement said a public demonstration of the dogs' abilities and agility will be given April 1 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine's open house event on Blue Ridge Road. Trials and competitions will be conducted at three Raleigh locations, including SBI headquarters on 3320 Garner Road, with an awards luncheon starting at noon April 5.

Mathias started the Raleigh Police Department's K-9 Unit in 1983, retired, and became SBI's dog handler in 2008. He trains SBI's detector dogs and travels statewide each year to 100 or more bomb or cadaver cases. "To get an idea of how incredibly trained these dogs are, the public is welcome to the NCSU vet school's open house on April 1 to watch them perform," he said.

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