DPD welcomes new K-9 recruit

Published 12:11 pm Monday, March 4, 2019

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New K-9 officer, Hondo, specifically trained for narcotics detection

Demopolis Police Department Officer Josh Ochiltree welcomed a new partner who will aid in narcotics investigations on Feb. 9. His partner is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois K-9 named Hondo.

The K-9 completed several months of training at Alabama Canine in Tuscaloosa before joining the DPD and partnering with Ochiltree, who also underwent a four-week narcotics K-9 handler course and was previously partnered with the department’s former police dog, Bo.

Officer Josh Ochiltree with the Demopolis Police Department’s new K-9 Officer, Hondo. The K-9 is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois and will aid in narcotics investigations.

Ochiltree said that Hondo will be with him at all times, as was Bo who retired one year ago and still stays with Ochiltree, which creates a strong relationship between the pair.

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“You build a much stronger bond because he’s with me all the time. He’s with me in my car if I’m at work. He’s with me at home. He’s almost like a little shadow,” he said.

Hondo is specifically trained in narcotics detection, while Bo was a “dual purpose” police dog trained in patrol, apprehension and narcotics detection according to Ochiltree. Interim DPD Chief Rex Flowers said that Hondo will be used for drug detection “anywhere we think drugs would be suspected.”

To graduate from Alabama Canine, Hondo had to show proficiency is finding five different odors. Ochiltree’s own certification came from showing he was able to handle Hondo properly.

Ochiltree described Hondo as friendly and laidback as long as he’s not in his cage.

“That’s about the only time I’ve ever seen him bark,” he said.

Ochiltree, who has been a K-9 handler for the last three years, also said he enjoys being partnered with Hondo and other K-9s.

“It’s probably the most fun thing you can with within law enforcement,” he said, adding that work doesn’t feel like work thanks to his partner.

Flowers expressed his gratitude towards the community donors who contributed to the K-9 fund that assisted with Hondo’s training: Arbours of Demopolis, LLC; Foster Farms; Two Rivers Lumber Company; Dr. James D. Dreading, DMD; Shirts and More; Gibbs & Sellers, PC; William Coplin Jr.; Marengo Drug Screening Center and Robertson Banking Company.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, February 20 issue of the Demopolis Times.)