Sitting in a Great Bend Police Department squad car, Menta was chomping at the bit to get to work Monday afternoon. She had just wrapped up her extensive training and ready to go on duty.
Menta wasn’t behind the wheel, she was in the backseat. You see, she is a 2-year-old Belgian malinois imported from Hungary and the city’s new K-9, and Monday was her first official day on the job.
“We are fully trained,” said Amber Allen, the GBPD’s K-9 handler. They were pulling the evening shift that night. She and her furry partner had just returned from Nacogdoches, Texas, where the had spent several weeks with the company Signal K-9 learning to work as a team.
Menta is a “dual purpose” dog, said Allen, a six-year veteran of the department. Menta can patrol, protect her handler, track and apprehend suspects, and sniff out narcotics.
“It’s an adjustment period,” Allen said. She had worked with the previous dog Lazer until his retirement in June due to health issues.
When she took over handling Lazer, he was ready to go. “Menta is still a little green,” Allen said, but they are quickly getting up to speed.
“She’s civil, but, she has a switch” and is ready for action in a heartbeat, Allen said.
“We use her quite a bit,” Allen said of the dog. Although Monday was her first night on duty, the duo has already been out on calls.
A lot of work
Allen hasn’t always worked with K-9s.
“I watched my husband handle (the dog for the Barton County Sheriff’s Office) and got interested in it,” she said. Then, a shift change brought her closer to the dog and the training and that’s when she wanted to get involved.
“The training never really ends with K-9s,” Police Chief David Bailey said. In addition to the work in Texas to become certified, federal officials recommend 16 hours of training per month.
The department is preparing another officer to work with Allen on this additional training. This includes how to be bitten by the dog.
It cost $16,000 to train Lazer and her handler, but it cost $10,000 for Menta, since Allen had already taken most of the education she needed.
Lazer’s retirement was unexpected, and a replacement was not planned, Bailey said. “I want to thank the City Council for working with us.”
Taking work home
Lazer is spending her retirement in the Allen home, Allen said. She and her husband (who is still with the BCSO but is not the dog handler) also have the BCSO’s former K-9, Rocco.
The two have different personalities, Allen said. Lazer is still having problems adjusting to civilian life, while Rocco spends most of the time flopped on the floor.