CONWAY — The Horry County Sheriffs Office has its first K9 unit and the department hopes the animal will help keep narcotic contraband away from the countys detention center.
The K9 is Kane, a 27-month old sable German shepherd, purchased through inmate funds money raised from commissary sales to inmates at the jail.
The K9 is a great asset, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said. Its something we have been working on and wanting to do for a long time. Its another tool we have to make sure our facility is safe and secure, not only for our staff, but for the inmates and everyone who comes through the doors.
Thompson said measures already are in place to prevent contraband from getting into the detention center, but some periodically gets in.
Having Deputy Kane to help and assist in making sure we have a safe, clean environment is essential to operations here at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
Police departments in Horry County, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach also have K9 units for narcotics, and Horry County has a bloodhound tracking team. Surfside Beach Police had a K9 unit last year, but the dog was owned by an officer and not the department. Surfside Beach Police Chief Rodney Keziah said that officer and his dog left the department. Keziah said he hopes to find grant money to purchase another K9 for the town.
Sgt. Jeff Benton, spokesman for the Horry County Sheriffs Office, said Kane soon will have a bulletproof and knife-proof vest that has been donated to the department by a nonprofit called Vested Interest in K9s.
Deputy Kenneth Martinelli is Kanes handler. The pair underwent three weeks of training in Wilmington, N.C. Kane came from Germany and responds only to the German commands.
He gets very excited when he works, Martinelli said of the K9. He is very thorough when he does his searches.
Martinelli has been with the Horry County Sheriffs Office since 2005. He has owned dogs before, but said none were as smart as Kane.
When I first came home with him, as soon as I entered the home, he thought it was a training scenario, he said. He saw the house as training and started searching everywhere. I assured him and reassured him that there was nothing in the house to find.
He said Kane can have trouble signing off from work inside the home and relaxes best in the garage.
When Kane does sniff out drugs, Martinelli said he will sit and wait to get paid, which is usually in the form of his favorite Kong toy.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.