Thomson's newest police canine, Eba, has a special mission: "to take a bite out of crime."
Eba, a three-year-old German Sheppard, has been on the job for the past three weeks and enjoying herself, according to her handler and partner, Sgt. John James of the Thomson Police Department.
"I've been very impressed by what I've seen thus far," said Sgt. James, who recently became a certified canine handler. "She's very good at her job. We've bonded very well with each other."
Eba is specially trained in the field of narcotics detection and trailing. Already, she has alerted on searches of several vehicles that have been stopped for various traffic related offenses. A small amount of cocaine, some marijuana and a drug pipe have been discovered by police since Eba first joined the force.
She also has helped aid in the arrest of a pair of drug suspects recently stopped for a traffic offense by Deputy Robert Hoffman of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department.
Aside from her abilities to detect for narcotics, she also is highly-trained in the areas of ground disturbance and air-scenting for human odor.
"I just like a trailing dog better than a tracking dog, because you don't have to have a scent article and things like that to help the tracking dog," said Sgt. James. "Both dogs are good at what they do, though - don't get me wrong. I just prefer the trailing method over the tracking method."
Through the years, the Thomson Police Department has had several K-9s, but it's been a year since the department had their last one, Kubo, now retired.
"It's very beneficial to our department to have a K-9," said Sgt. James, who received three weeks of intensive training this past December at Tarheel Canine in Sanford, N.C. That particular training facility is where Sgt. James became certified as a K-9 handler and where Eba was trained, too.
Tarheel Canine's police K-9 training is licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as by the North Carolina DHR and U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau.
"It's one of the best K-9 training facilities in the country," said Sgt. James. "I really learned a lot there and so did Eba."
While there, Eba also received obedience and practical agility training and handler protection, along with other specialized training.
Aside from the training that he received at Tarheel Canine, Sgt. James also is required to perform a minimum of 16 hours of special training with his dog.
"People have been very open to letting us train around Thomson," added Sgt. James. "I really appreciate how private individuals and those in the business community have supported us in our training requests and more importantly, perhaps, their financial contributions."
Without the financial help of local individuals and businesses, it would have been impossible for the Thomson Police Department to have acquired another K-9 and funded the training of both the dog and a handler.
"I can't thank everybody enough for their support and how well received the new dog has been in our community," said Sgt. James. "It shows their commitment to the safety of this community. The money they've donated for the purchase of the dog and training speaks volumes about each of them."
Bob Flanders and Carolyn Andrews have been "highly supportive" in allowing local training at the Thomson Housing Authority, he explained.
"They've allowed us to search units that are undergoing remodeling and things like that," said Sgt. James. "It's really been very helpful. And it helps us get that training that we need every month."
The dog will work the same schedule as Sgt. James. Eba also will be on-call when needed to assist other Thomson police officers, deputies with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, the Georgia State Patrol or any other area law enforcement agency.
Helping hands in the community
The following individuals, businesses or government agency helped to fund the purchase of the new Thomson police K-9 and her training. They included:
The Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office
Hoover Treated Wood Products
Triple M Hotels (White Columns Inn)
Two State Construction Company
Vel-Star Medical Transport
Interstate Equipment Co.
Jimmy & Dena's
Affordable Auto Glass
Dallas and Medlin
Beggs Funeral Home
Jimmy Plunkett Law Firm
Badcock Home Furniture
Dr. John Bieltz
Strother's Paint and Body
Wester Veterinary Clinic
C & C Tire Service
The Wilson Company
Watson & Knox