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Part of the pack

Colonie prepares successor in one-dog canine unit

The Colonie Police Department recently purchased Vader, a 16-month-old German shepherd who will complete patrol, tracking and narcotics training and become the 11th dog in Colonie history to join the K-9 Unit Patrol Division.

The Colonie Police Department recently purchased Vader, a 16-month-old German shepherd who will complete patrol, tracking and narcotics training and become the 11th dog in Colonie history to join the K-9 Unit Patrol Division. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— “(He’ll) bite and hold onto (the) arm until we go up to them and give commands. Our dog is trained to let go and stop biting. If the bad guy stops running away, the dog has to stop. A dog cannot bite a person that’s not moving,” he said. “The dog will go into a bark and hold at (the criminal’s) feet. If the person runs away again, then the dog will bite.”

Shaw also speaks to Vader with Slovakian commands so the criminal doesn’t know what he is saying. However, in all the years that Shaw has worked with canines, he said a Colonie canine has never had to bite anyone.

“People give up when they see the dog. People would rather fight with us then they would with the dogs,” he said.

Although he’s currently training Vader during the day as the weather gets nicer, Shaw normally works the midnight shift and is always on call if a canine is needed. He said oftentimes he’s the only officer in the Capital District with a dog and gets called through other departments as well.

Shaw drives a K-9 Unit SUV, which has no back seats and instead, plenty of room for the dog. Since Shaw does regular patrolling 99 percent of his shift, the dog stays in the car with the air conditioner on and windows cracked. If the A/C were to stop working and the thermostat hits 87 degrees, the van’s windows will automatically go down and an alarm will sound for Shaw to come out.

“It only takes a few minutes for the dog to die in heat,” Shaw said, adding that he likes to check on the dog every 10 or so minutes regardless.

Shaw added that they’ve been fortunate where there was never a situation where the dogs were in danger. The dogs are outfitted with a bulletproof vest like officers.

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