Wisconsin News

Training K-9s as puppies behind bars provides multiple benefits

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Police K-9s are trained to help law enforcement catch criminals and solve crimes by searching for people, for drugs or for bombs.

The work the dogs do is a culmination of months and sometimes years of training.

But what if some of these dogs were trained by the criminals themselves? The result could be beneficial in more ways than one.

"When I put a uniform on, he knows it's time to go to work," said investigator Ron Secord of the La Crosse Police Department of Grumman, one of the department's police K-9s.

As a four-legged member the La Crosse Police Department, Grumman, a 5-year old golden retriever, always runs everything past his nose.


"He's just always got to sniff and check everything and check everybody out," said Secord.

Grumman is one of three K-9s in the department and for the past four year's, he's worked alongside Secord, his owner, as an explosive detection dog.

"He's very good at what he does," said Secord. "In the four years of training and recertifications, we've never failed a test."

But what you may not know about Grumman is his history behind bars.

"Grumman came through a prison out in New York State called the Orange Correctional Facility," said Secord.

Grumman came through a program called Puppies Behind Bars in which selected inmates, looking to turn their lives around, train 8-week-old puppies to become service dogs for wounded war vets and explosive detection dogs for law enforcement.

"They've committed serious crimes," said Gloria Gilbert Stoga, president of Puppies Behind Bars. "In a number of cases, they've committed murder and we come in and we trust them with a life -- with an 8-week-old life."

The puppies live with the inmates and train with them for 16 weeks before being placed with an owner, and for Grumman and Secord, it couldn't have been a better match.

"I'm a dog lover," said Secord. "We've always had dogs in my family."

Grumman also lives with Secord and his family. While he may be an excellent explosive detection dog, he makes a pretty good family dog too.

"He's great with my kids and at home with my wife," said Secord. "So he's been a real treat to have around."

Grumman still trains every day. He's a food-rewards dog. Secord sets out explosives or materials used to make explosives throughout the police department or at home for Grumman to find, and when he does, he gets fed.

Secord and Grumman have been all over the U.S. for work and training.

Grumman helped with Vice President Joe Biden's visit to UW-La Crosse a couple of weeks ago as well as the Republican National Convention where he worked alongside his brother, Crosby, an explosive detection dog in Florida.

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