MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office held a demonstration Thursday, Feb. 22, showcasing one of their greatest tools in combating the opioid crisis: the K-9 unit.
"That nose is incredible, and it's an incredible tool," said a Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office K-9 handler.
K-9 officers are partners with a badge who can chase after bad guys. They also find drugs and guns -- and their sheer presence on any crime scene is enough to make the most belligerent criminal take notice.
"Having another (human) partner, if they see drugs or guns or something in the car, that's fine, but if they don't see it, my dog will smell it and that helps a lot too," the handler said.
The MCSO showed some of its finest K-9 deputies in action on Thursday.
"This unit is absolutely essential for law enforcement. We use them in our airport. We use them in patrol, in our expressway service, and we also use them in detention," said Milwaukee County Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt.
"It's just a job, and they're very well-trained, and there's more time to put into it now," said the K-9 handler.
There are 17 K-9 pairs for the whole unit, and each handler works with their four-legged partner until retirement, which is roughly nine to 11 years. Until it gets to that point, it's all business.
"They'll protect the handler, and even if they bite the bad guy, he can go right up and pet the dog afterwards," the K-9 handler said.
These K-9 officers serve as life-long partners who can do a whole lot more than fetch.
Acting Sheriff Schmidt said within the past month, the K-9 handlers have started to carry Narcan on them for use on their dogs. It's for those rare moments that a dog has ingested drugs during a search, causing them to overdose like a human would.
Deputies are then able to use the product to potentially save the dog's life.