• July 31, 2014

Drug-detection dog, handler among students’ favorite Safety Week visitors

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Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 4:30 am

Students at Saegert Elementary School got an up-close and personal look at how the Killeen Independent School District keeps campuses free of drugs, alcohol and other dangers during a canine detection demonstration assembly Monday afternoon.

Students were ushered into the school’s cafeteria to meet Eve, a 3-year-old Weimaraner, and her handler, James Combs of Interquest Detection Canines. Interquest is a Waco-based company the district uses to conduct safety sweeps for drugs, alcohol and firearms at its schools.

“We help find things that shouldn’t be in schools,” Combs told the students. “We are here to help keep you and your teachers and principals safe.”

While the term “detection dog” usually calls to mind more intimidating breeds such as the German shepherd, Combs said Interquest selects dogs based on their work ethic, not just their breed.

“We look at individual traits, and dogs that are driven and willing to hunt the scents down,” said Combs. “We also look for friendly dogs, because they are going to be working around kids in schools.”

As a detection dog, Eve is trained to recognize and “alert” on a number of substances, including illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and marijuana as well as prescription drugs. Combs said the dog also can detect beer, wine and hard alcohol, as well as ammunition, guns and fireworks.

For the demonstration, students looked on as Eve alerted to a number of these substances, which had been placed in backpacks and lunch bags and then put on the stage.

The presentation is part of a district-wide Safety Week, during which schools raise awareness on a variety of school-related safety issues.

Sagert counselor Mona Odom said Sagert also will address topics such as stranger danger, emergency preparedness, bus safety, and safety with technology and social media.

“We want our students to be thinking about safety, and we will be discussing a lot of different safety issues,” she said. “This is something we do every year, and the dog is one of their favorites.”

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