The Beatrice Police Department has expanded its K-9 program with the recent addition of a year-old black shepherd mix from the Czech Republic named Thomas.
Last fall, the dog and his handler, Beatrice Officer Derrick Hosick, spent more than three months training to receive certification in Grand Island with the Nebraska State Patrol.
Hosick said Thomas is different from the department’s other K-9, Toro, and the Gage County Sheriff’s Office K-9, Buster, because he does more than detect narcotics.
“That basically includes criminal apprehension, building searches, tracking and evidence recovery,” Hosick said. “That can be on a wide scale of things. A juvenile who’s ran away, all the way up to a criminal who is evading custody.”
Hosick said Thomas' commands are a mix of Dutch, German and English and that the dog's work life expectancy is roughly 8-10 years.
"With shepherds, your biggest issue's going to be hip dysplasia, things like that, but I have taken extra steps giving him nutrients and supplements to try to prevent that," Hosick said.
In his short time with the department, Thomas has helped recover a stolen vehicle, detected narcotics and served warrants. Hosick said it wouldn’t be uncommon for the sheriff’s office or the Wymore Police Department to use Thomas.
You have free articles remaining.
“The K-9 is more or less really the only reason I wanted to be a police officer,” Hosick said. “I saw the need for a dual-purpose dog in the county, let alone the city of Beatrice. I felt that we could really benefit from it, and I knew that I was the right kind of officer to do it.”
Hosick said there isn’t a lot of downtime between training and otherwise caring for Thomas but that he’s loved the experience so far.
“He’s a good dog," Hosick said. "He’s very eager to work, and he’s got a high drive, ready to go exploring.”
He added that Thomas will wear a muzzle while he’s still in training but is not aggressive.
“I think he knows the difference between when it’s time to work and when we’re just hanging out, but this is more so for his safety than anyone else’s safety,” Hosick said. “I just don’t want anyone to startle him or anything since we’re still new to everything.”
Hosick said the dog's purchase was funded completely from grants and donations from organizations, including the City of Beatrice, the Beatrice Police Department, Blue Valley Veterinary Clinic, BNSF Railway and Orscheln Farm and Home.
A significant amount of money was donated by the Margaret and Martha Thomas Foundation in Wymore, which is why Hosick named Thomas after them.
Hosick said he’s thankful for the community support of the department’s K-9 unit.
“Thomas is going to be really good at what he does, and I’m excited to work with him,” he said.