Sunday, November 08, 2009

THANKS DRAGO!

Elyria – Last weekend I had the opportunity to ride along with Lorain County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Perkins and his K9 Partner Drago. It was Friday October 30th, the last night of Drago’s career.

After 7 years with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department Drago retired. The day before the Lorain County Commissioners recognized him during a regular meeting at the County Administration building. Along with the Commissioners applauding Drago’s career fellow K9 Handlers were also on hand in a show of support. Elyria Police Officers Tom Baracskai and Rick Walker presented Perkins and Drago with a personalized photo blanket.

Perkins is a life long resident of Lorain County. Born and raised in Lorain he moved to Elyria 7 years ago where he still resides. Perkins joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1980 as an Auxiliary. He then moved to the Jail as a Corrections Officer in 1987 where he stayed for two years before being promoted to Deputy Sheriff in 1989.

Perkins said that 14 years ago he saw the notice that the Sheriff was looking for someone to become a K9 Officer and he jumped at the chance. Perkins won the spot and became the Handler for Moe, a black Lab narcotics dog. Moe had been with the Department already but his Handler at the time was going into the Drug Task Force and could no longer continue as his Handler. Perkins and Moe worked together for 7 years when Moe retired at the age of 10. After retirement Moe continued to live with Perkins until he passed away in 2005 after a battle with Cancer.

During Moe’s last days on the Department former Lorain County Prosecutor Greg White’s Officer purchased a dog for the Sheriff’s Department. Enter Drago. Perkins trained with Drago while Moe was still working so when retirement day came for Moe – Drago stepped right in.

Drago, imported from West Germany, was 2 at the time and after nearly 1,500 hours of training he was certified as a multiple purpose Police Dog. Just some of his certifications were narcotics, building searches, apprehention, tracking and area searches.
STARTS OUT WITH A FELONY APPREHENTION
The day Drago was certified he and Perkins were heading back into Lorain County and Perkins said he heard radio traffic in Amherst of a search for two burglary suspects. Perkins got permission from his boss to, on his own time, assist in the search. While searching the area the two men broke into a home to hide out. As Perkins and Drago closed in the two men fled their hide out and headed back out into the woods on foot. A decision that one of them would soon regret as they crossed paths with the newly certified K9. Drago jumped on the one suspect as he tried to run and Perkins took him into custody.
Perkins said that while working with both Moe and Drago he believes in making your dog feel like a winner. “The bottom line is making your dog a winner. I tell guys all the time that the three most important things to making your dog productive is make the dog a winner – make the dog a winner – make the dog a winner. You can’t ask for anything more then that – he does something then you praise him, it’s the love and affection that you show the dog. The dog has to become part of you and your family – and that’s the way it is.”
DRAGO’S LAST NIGHT – ONE LAST FELONY
While riding along with Perkins and Drago the night was fairly quiet, certainly not much for Drago to do. Then with less than an hour left on the shift a call came in for a man assaulting his Grandmother in Elyria Township. The Dispatcher advised that the man was holding people in the house against their will.
When we arrived at the house Perkins, Drago and one other Deputy approached the house. Two victims came running from the house and said the suspect was still inside. As we entered the home the man fell to the floor and the Deputy got on top of him as Drago stood guard, eyes focused on the suspect and barking loudly. As the Deputy escorted the suspect, the victims Grandson, to the patrol car Drago marched right behind, still focused and still barking as if to say – “go ahead and try something stupid.”
The suspect kept falling to the ground and when the Deputy said stop resisting the man said – “I ain’t resisting, you got that dog, you think I would resist?”

Perkins then led Drago back to his car and for the last time Drago jumped into the back seat as a working Police Dog.

EARLY RETIREMENT
Although Drago is certified until March of 2010, the Sheriff’s Department made him retire early. Perkins also retired as a K9 Handler as the Sheriff’s Office told him he would not get another dog. Perkins was not happy to hear that news. “I didn’t understand it, the only reason they gave was that they wanted to give someone else a chance. My thinking is, if you have a guy on the SWAT Team who is highly trained and does he job well – I don’t care if I want to get on the SWAT Team, if that guy is highly trained and is doing his job he should be allowed to continue doing his job. If it’s not broke, why fix it?”

THE TRANSITION
The transition for both Drago and Perkins has not been easy. Perkins says that he will start getting dressed at the Sheriff’s Department because when Drago sees him at home getting into uniform he still thinks it’s time for him to go to work. For Perkins he said that several times a night he’d look back to talk to Drago, but he’s not there anymore.

During the Commissioners meeting Perkins presented the Sheriff’s Office with a check for one dollar to purchase Drago. Officers at the meeting joked that a collection was taken up to help Perkins buy Drago.

Perkins said that now Drago is a household pet. “I’ll probably still get him out and do stuff with him – maybe go back to my old training group every once in a while when he gets a little antsy and take him out and let him play. It’s all fun for him, it’s like a game. I obviously won’t have access to narcotics to train with but there are plenty of other things we can do and keep him active. Most importantly though he will be our family pet and will get a lot of love from me and the rest of my family – because he is part of the family.”


2 Comments:

Blogger Brandon Rutherford said...

Very cool story. However, we still have a K-9 on the Sheriff's Department don't we?

-Rutherford

12:08 PM  
Blogger dirtdigger said...

Then with less than an hour left on the shift a call came in for a man assaulting his Grandmother in Elyria Township.

Deputy Perkins should have let Drago use that punk for a chew toy just for GP

5:05 PM  

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