“The word is humbling:” Non-profit giving back to first responders and their K9s with seminar

BERLIN, Md. — Friday morning when you entered the Frontier Town Campground in Worcester County, you would find police officers from different counties; and by her side was her K9 partner. For three days, they will work alongside some of the country’s top K9 trainers while exploring life-saving techniques for free.

“The word is humbling because being able to give back to our first responders is the best I can describe as humbling,” said Carol Skaziak, founder of the Throw Away Dogs Project.

Throw Away Dogs Project is a non-profit organization that turns misunderstood dogs into trained law enforcement dogs.

This is the second year this K9 Law and Order Seminar has been hosted by the non-profit organization. Skaziak said the training is important given the financial strain on some law enforcement agencies.

“Because police departments don’t always have the financial resources, sometimes they don’t have the training that we really want them to have,” Skaziak said.

At the campsite, the handlers and K9 go through different scenarios. Practice decision-making skills and build dogs’ confidence. You’ll also get food, entertainment, and motivational speeches.

“Once they see a certain image, or overcome an obstacle, or one of the lures present themselves in a certain way, if they’ve seen that before, they’re likely to be successful when they hit the road, and that’s our goal,” said John Bonville, a coach from Idaho.

And those we spoke to said that training improves community.

“If you have something else that can control you, someone who doesn’t have to use a firearm, that’s a big deal,” Bonville said. “So reaching someone, which is huge, finding people, following them, is huge.”

Meanwhile, the bond between the handlers and their K9 is also strengthened.

“Sometimes they get misunderstood, they’re a very important part of a first responder, the dog itself is a law enforcement officer,” Skaziak said.

75 law enforcement dog teams have registered for the training event, including one team from Canada.

Skaziak also shared with us during the event that they announced their Blue Program, a new initiative that will make therapy dogs available to first responders. They will team up with Leashes of Valor to do this.

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