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Muskogee County Deputy Mike Grace walks his German shepherd, Chico, outside the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility after training the dog Thursday afternoon.

Two dogs recently added to the roster of the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office are partnering up with deputies who will work with the canines.

Training for the handlers and the dogs is a rigorous exercise that can take up to six weeks for new handlers.

“We put them through everything they might encounter on the streets with their dog,” Deputy Jim Williams said about the training exercises. “We’re training Mike Grace with the dog he will be handling on the night shift.”

The two dogs being trained for active duty are Belgian Malinois, a variety of Belgian Shepherd, that have been used by the sheriff’s office before with great success.

The pair cost the department $12,000, but Williams said that expense will be offset by assets seized as a result of the dogs’ efforts.

“Agencies all over the state use their dogs to make money through seizures, which are used to fund our operations,” Williams said. “It’s expensive to get started up, but the costs are well worth it when you consider the benefits.”

Sheriff Charles Pearson said the dogs will be used to sniff out drugs, missing people, suspects and evidence.

“If these dogs could talk on the radio, I wouldn’t need any deputies,” Pearson said.

Reach D.E. Smoot at 684-2903 or dsmoot@ muskogeephoenix.com.

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