By Kathryn Rice

With help from the Gladys Rickard Trust in the form of a grant for $14,103.71 and the American Kennel Club (AKC) with a grant for $10,000, the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department was able to purchase a German Shepherd drug dog.

Akela, who was imported from the Czech Republic, is a three-year-old black dog trained for detecting every illegal controlled substance including meth, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, LSD and fentanyl. Akela also does tracking and apprehension.

The dog was purchased from K-9 Working Dogs International, Ohio. Captain Austin Hann, who is the handler for K-9 Bolt which was purchased from the same company, selected Akela from videos sent by the company. The company was given a set of criteria which the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department wanted in its new dog. The company also granted the department a $3,750 grant toward the purchase.

Akela’s handler is Deputy Tanner Hall. Hann opened the position up to the entire department. Hall was selected.

“I love it,” Hall said. “It was what I wanted to do initially. It happened sooner than I thought. I can’t complain about that.”

Hall and Akela bonded during a two-week course. The duo was together the entire time. Hall issues commands to Akela in Czech which was the dog’s training language.

Hann is still using Bolt in Nodaway County schools but has taken the dog away from street use. Bolt is trained in tracking and apprehension as well as marijuana detection. He plans to use Bolt for at least one more school year.

Hann applied for the AKC grant which the department received. The AKC’s only requirement is the patrol car must have an AKC sticker in the window.