City set to host police canine trials

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

Brookhaven area dog lovers, law enforcement enthusiasts andmembers of the general public will be able to be a part of thethrill of victory and the agony of defeat later this month asBrookhaven hosts the 2007 United States Police Canine AssociationRegion 26 Regional Trials.

The competition is scheduled on Feb. 16-19 at the BrookhavenMunicipal Airport. The four days will involve several differentkind of trials and will include officers and canines from all overMississippi and neighboring states.

Brookhaven Police Officer Clint Earls and his Belgian Malinois,Felix, have the distinction not only of playing on home turf, butalso defending the champion title that Felix has held since 2004.According to Earls, his pride in his furry friend extends beyondhis achievements.

“He rides with me eight hours a day, five days a week, and he’swith me on my days off,” Earls said of Felix. “He depends on me totake care of him and he’s with me all the time. He’s like a memberof the family.”

The pair can count on stiff competition, too, as theirrelationship is one that most canine officers have with their poochpartners.

The attendance to the USPCA Regionals varies every year, butcould climb as high as 150 officers. Since the weather and abilityto secure time off can also play a factor, it has also been as lowas 30-40 officers and dogs in the past.

There will be a variety of breeds on display as well, everythingfrom the standard German Shepherd to other Belgian Malinois tocompete in the detection and apprehension categories, as well asLabrador and Golden Retrievers, which tend to specialize indetection. Earls said, however, that it’s always a possibility thatonlookers could see something unpredictable.

“Harrison County experimented with three little pot-bellied pigsat one time. I’ve also seen canine handlers that trained theirlittle house dogs like terriers and things while they were trainingtheir police canines,” he said.

And while the trials themselves are open to the public, a publicdemonstration is also in the works. Details have not beencompletely finalized, but Earls hopes to be able to showcase thedogs’ talents in a non-competitive way for anyone interested.

“We’ll more than likely use one of the sporting fields where thepublic can have access to the bleachers. We can show them differentmethods we use as far as agility, obedience, a felony vehicletraffic stop,” he said. “Just let the public see what the dogs aredoing and how they benefit law enforcement.”

Police Chief Pap Henderson pointed out that this is an opportunetime for the people of Brookhaven to show hospitality, as well asspreading good will for the city.

“I’m really looking forward to this for the city of Brookhaven,”he said. “We have all these agencies coming in and we want to showthem the hospitality that we can show here and I’d like to seepeople help these guys as much as they can.”