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K9 unit starts work for Department of Wildlife Resources

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 6:38 PM EDT
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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - “It’s a special bond,” said Department of Wildlife Resources K9 handler Ian Ostlund. “it really, really is. I almost liken it to having another child.”

You can see it as he and his dog, Reese, work and play.

“It’s a full-time job,” Ostlund said. “I might be off on the schedule, but she doesn’t know that. So even on scheduled off days, she still wants to go out and work and train.”

So I helped out with a little training, dropping a shotgun shell and wad, and the shotgun itself. It’s the sort of thing Reese is trained for, searching for evidence or people.

“Our dogs are not bite dogs, they’re not narcotics detection dogs,” Ostlund explained. “We specialize in the wildlife enforcement areas, primarily.”

They’ve only been on duty together for a month or so, one of five teams that just graduated from training. That gives the department a total of nine teams, allowing them to properly cover the entire state now.

She obviously loves her work.

“I have to make a point each day to put her in her kennel for a little bit of time, just so she can mentally relax and disconnect,” Ostlund said.

But that means they’re always ready.

“You never know,” said Ostlund. “Sometimes the calls come in late at night, sometimes they come in at midday. You just never know.”

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