Police dog added to RPD unit
If you look closely, you will see that the Russellville Police Department has a new addition this week.
It's not a new officer. It's not new equipment. It's not even a new vehicle.
It's a new four-legged friend.
The department's new multi-purpose dog began patrolling the streets of Russellville Monday afternoon.
"We were able to purchase this dog through a grant from ADECA (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs)," Police Chief Chris Hargett said.
"We were awarded the grant last year, and other equipment purchased with the money includes digital cameras, stop sticks and tasers."
Hargett said the grant totaled $25,000 with a 10 percent match.
The dog, Viigo, and his handler, Officer Chad Sheffield, began working the streets Monday after spending several weeks getting to know one another and training.
"I just completed eight weeks of learning basic handling skills and to bond with the dog," Sheffield said.
While Viigo has spent eight weeks with his handler, he has been learning detection since birth in Belgium.
"He was born in Belgium and was kept there until he was two years old," Sheffield said. "Then, he was flown to Tuscaloosa and trained more before I began taking the course."
Sheffield said all the dog's commands are in Dutch, and he has enjoyed working with the animal.
"He's a very social dog," Sheffield said. "But he loves to work, too."
Hargett said the animal will be used to search for narcotics and subject apprehension.
"We've seen in the past where we could have used a multi-purpose canine," Hargett said. "He's a great tool for our department as well as the county."
Hargett said the animal will not only be used by his department but by smaller departments in the county should they have a need.
"We have had help from larger departments in the past, and we believe in sharing our assets."
Viigo will reside with Sheffield and come to work with him each day.