New Explosive Detection K-9 on Campus

There’s a new addition to the Auraria Campus implemented to keep students safe. It’s a new police officer, who has four legs, white fur and a wet nose.

Dash is a one-year-old, English cream golden retriever who was rescued from Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. Him and his handler, Officer Corey Averill, became partners in October.

They are a part of the first K-9 unit on campus. Officer Averill was chosen for his experience as a military police officer and Dash for his nose. They spent 10 weeks training to detect explosive odors.

“We are a certified team. Dash is certified in finding the odors and I’m certified in reading his behavior to determine if he has found any odors,” Officer Averill said.

Not only is Dash the only K-9 on campus, his name is special too. He was named after an old Tivoli Beer from the prohibition.

“It’s kind of a cool name. It ties into campus and has some history in it,” Officer Averill said.

The K-9 unit was introduced this year to make officers’ jobs safer and more efficient.

“Everyday, out of the almost 45,000 students that come here, somebody leaves a backpack unattended that takes a lot of time for us to safely examine and get back to them,” Chief Michael Phibbs said.

Dash’s job also includes clearing rooms before big events such as dignitary visits.

Not only is Dash helpful for sniffing, he catches the attention of students and faculty.

“He’s a happy dog, smiling face, so he’s here to kind of bring all the students up, and it’s kind of nice seeing a dog walking around,” Officer Averill said.

Dash also helps the police seem more approachable.

“They might see the dog out and might be more willing to talk to us more. It kind of humanizes the uniform in a way,” Officer Averill said.  

Although Dash’s job is so important, he doesn’t realize he is working.

“Dash doesn’t know what he’s searching for, he just knows that he recognizes this odor, and if he follows it he gets a toy and gets to play. So, he gets all excited when he finds it,” Officer Averill said.

The pair have yet to find an actual explosive device on campus.

They are on campus Monday through Friday and students have enjoyed seeing them around.

Pamela Pacheski is a student who just lost her golden retriever. Seeing Dash on campus and being able to pet him made her feel a lot better.

“It’s nice seeing a dog,” Pacheski said.

“They want to use him to sniff out bombs. Of course, my mind goes ‘I hope he never ever finds a bomb.’”

Officer Averill wants students to keep in mind that Dash is a service dog, and he is working. If someone wants to pet Dash, he advises them to ask first then he’ll bring Dash to the student.

After a long day on campus, Officer Averill and Dash head home to relax.

“Dash goes home with me everyday, so it’s a neverending work relationship.”

Until the next day, when Dash comes back to campus to protect and play.

Students can keep up with Dash and his K-9 adventures with his instagram @dashthek9.


Author: Miranda McHodgkins

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