By Laurie Stone
Cannon Air Force Base officials on Wednesday hosted a dog-sniffing demonstration for children at the Child Development Center on campus at Eastern New Mexico University.
Julie Cathey, head teacher of CDC, said the event was one in a series of lessons on safety. She said last week students learned how to be safe by wearing seat belts, crossing the road properly and what to do if there is a fire.
Staff Sgt. James Pitts from CAFB brought five staff sergeants with him and an equal number of German Shepherds to demonstrate the importance of “dogs in the military” and their purpose.
As Pitts discussed safety tips with the children, explaining the hazards of approaching unfamiliar dogs and the dangers of drugs and alcohol, his team prepared a dog named Aron to sniff out a bottle of potassium chlorate (which is used to make bombs). The dog found the bottle hidden in a suitcase.
Pitts said Aron is trained to detect nine different types of explosive odors. He works with the Secret Service and State Department.
To add emphasis to the exhibit, the dogs demonstrated their police work ability by attaching their teeth to the padded arm of trainers as preschoolers watched.
A dog named Roy showed off his obedience training by performing the commands trainer Staff Sgt. Carl Martin spoke: run, sit and stay.
Afterwards, a dog named Harris searched Staff Sgt. Kameron Bunker, demonstrating how he could detect drugs on someone’s body and what he is trained to do if a suspect takes off running — he bites.
Colton Morrison, a 3-year-old at CDS, said his favorite part of the dog exhibition was when the dogs attacked the trainers.
“I have two dogs at home, Radar and Daisey, but they don’t eat people,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Robert Haglund said each dog visiting the CDC was at a different level of training maturity.
The military purchases the dogs from all over the world when they are from 13 to 16 months old. “Once they’re assigned to a base, they’re assigned there for life,” Haglund said. “They get orders just like a soldier.”
Staff Sgt. Kameron Bunker and his dog Harris just got back from Kuwait. Their job was to look for bombs.
“We both matured as a team and in our closeness,” he said. “We got to the point where we could read each other emotionally. He knew when I was tired and couldn’t continue and I could tell when he was tired,” Bunker said.