FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Fairfield K-9 Officers Kevin Wells and Evan Kaesmann brought their furry partners to the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities on Tuesday to educate residents about the vital role canine units play in police work.
“I think it’s one of the best tools we have,” Kaesmann told the crowd of about 40, who peppered the officers with questions throughout the event.
The officers said they use their K9 partners — Kaesmann’s Maverick and Wells’ Jagger — for everything from finding narcotics in cars to tracking missing children and adults. In addition, Fairfield K-9 units assisted in about 40 cases in other communities last year alone.
Maverick and Jagger, who were imported from specific European bloodlines, joined the force in October. Since then, they have been working, training and living with Wells and Kaesmann, who said K-9 work takes a special commitment.
“The dogs are no different from a puppy, though these are larger, high-energy puppies,” Kaesmann said, laughing.
And that’s a good thing. The mark of a successful K-9 dog is its energy, drive to work and attention to its partner, Wells said.
“They’re friendly, but when they get that command to go, it’s like a light switch,” Wells said. “They’re on it.”
Wells and Kaesmann demonstrated their dogs’ keen sense of smell by hiding a baggie of marijuana in a cabinet at the senior center, eliciting a few giggles from the crowd. Each dog was able to find the odor of the drug and sit in front of it, waiting for praise and a beloved chew toy.
“You have to make it fun for them,” Wells said. “If it’s not fun, they’re not going to want to do it.”
Fairfield’s K-9 unit is funded entirely by donations. Concerned citizens have helped to pay for food and supplies, as well as the technology needed for K-9 vehicles, which have special life-saving controls to regulate temperature on intensely hot or cold days, Wells said.
The unit is getting ready to measure the dogs — who are not yet 2 years old — for custom bullet- and stab-proof vests that they’ll be able to use throughout their five to eight years of active police duty. Two local donors gave the $1,500 for each vest, Wells said.
No technology stops the dogs from being dogs. Fellow officers know right away when they get a call from Wells, who said Jagger barks non-stop when he knows they’re going out on a case.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah, Dad? You’re talking?’” Wells said. “‘I’m gonna talk, too.’”
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