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BARL dogs learn obedience

At the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League, it looks like old dogscan teach K-9 officers new tricks.

Brookhaven Police Department Sgt. Clint Earls has been a K-9officer for 15 years now, and he said he’s still learning more andmore about dog behavior every day.

“The city has sent me to a lot of schools and competitions, andI’ve learned a lot about animal behavior,” he said. “The more dogsI work with, the more I’m able to do with other dogs.”

So Earls donates his time at BARL, working with the dogs onbasic behavior modification that not only hones his skills, butmore importantly helps them be more adoptable.

“If I can bring these dogs to a basic obedience level, it helpsthem get adopted,” he said. “A lot of these dogs were alreadytrained to ‘sit’ and ‘down,’ and some are trained to heel. But Ican work with them on some problems like fear biting or fear ofpeople when they’ve been mistreated, or the dogs that constantlywant to jump up on people.”

In addition, he said, when a dog is adopted, he can still helpthe owners if the dog seems to have complications when he gets tohis new environment. This helps insure that owners will stay happywith their dogs, and the dogs will be able to stay in their newhomes.

It’s not only the dogs at BARL that Earls works with, but alsothe volunteers. When his schedule is clogged up with work andfamily, there are BARL volunteers who can fill in the gaps andcontinue the training with the dogs.

“Consistency is very important in communicating with animals,”he said. “If I can offer insight so that we’re all doing the sametraining with these dogs, then they start to recognize the commandsand what we’re trying to do.”

Earls said his experience with highly disciplined police dogsactually applies quite a bit when he’s dealing with the herd atBARL.

“The dogs that I’m accustomed to are on that highly-trainedlevel, but there are still particular working skills that translatefrom those dogs to the dog that’s just a pet,” he said. “The dogs Iwork with are bred to be perfect, but this brings me back to aplace where I can help a dog who may have some problems.”

But, Earls said, he is not a one-man show. It’s the help anddedication of everyone at BARL that keeps the shelter going.

“I’m only a small part of this,” he said. “I’m not here all thetime. Where I come in is to tell them what the problem is and tohelp the everyday volunteers pick up where I left off.”

Earls is just like any other coach or teacher who puts hispupils out into the world.

“I like it that here I can take a dog with problems and helphim, and then watch him go home with a family that cares abouthim,” he said.