TRAVERSE CITY — The newest recruit at Grand Traverse County’s Sheriff Department has brown eyes, black hair with streaks of tan, an impressive vertical jump and will work a full shift for tennis balls and braided rope pull toys.
“Kalo,” a 13-month-old German shepherd, Belgian Malinois cross, was imported from Poland and is a dual-purpose dog, trained in both drugs and patrol.
His handler is Dep. Kyler Ronsin, new to the unit.
“Many of our deputies have an interest in working the K9 unit,” said Capt. Chris Clark, of Ronsin’s new assignment. “We look for those diligently fulfilling their patrol responsibilities. Kyler would attend trainings to watch the dogs work, and would volunteer to run a track if we needed him to.”
Kalo’s first day on the job was Friday. He’s the department’s first dog trained to “imprint” on illegal narcotics but not marijuana, Clark said.
On lead, Kalo can also track, such as when police are searching for a missing person or someone on the run.
“He can track any human odor,” Rosin said. “It’s on me to differentiate between a missing child, say, or someone else.”
Rosin and Kalo just completed a five-week training course with Mid-Michigan Police K9 of Eaton Rapids. The owner, Mike Morgan, said he has provided several previous dogs to the county.
“I fly over to Poland personally, test and select all the dogs,” Morgan said. “What I can tell you about Kalo is, he’s super social, very friendly and hard working. When you get him out of the car, that dog is ready to work.”
The two breeds are a useful combination for law enforcement, Morgan said, but cautioned that Belgian Malinois, the breed the U.S. military deployed to help track both Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Ladin, do not make good family dogs.
“You get that super-high drive with the Malinois, and the stabilizing influence of the German shepherd. But Malinois, when people buy them for pets, end up in shelters. They need a job. They need to be working.”
Morgan predicted Kalo and Rosin would make a good team.
“I’ve provided eight dogs to Grand Traverse County over the years and the quality of the handlers the county sends me is excellent. That department has sent me some really great students. They’re all hard workers.”
The new canine and the training course were paid for with a $12,500 grant from the Oleson Foundation.