MORRISTOWN, NJ – Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Corporal Michael McMahon, a Roxbury resident, and his police dog named Kai, brought the national spotlight to the agency recently by setting two speed records to advance to the finals of the A&E Network’s America’s Top Dog competition.

McMahon, who already was a master dog trainer and handler when he joined the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, won two of three rounds of America’s Top Dog in episode 8 as part of #teamkai.

He now is a contender for a $25,000 prize and Top Dog title that will occur in the series final episode in mid-March.

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The outcome of the series, filmed last summer in Santa Clarita, California, is known, but America’s Top Dog won’t be revealed publicly until the final competition. 

Viewing Party Gets Rowdy

Episode 8 aired Feb. 26, and the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement P.B.A. 151 - rooting for #teamkai - hosted a private viewing for more than 150 fellow officers, friends and family of McMahon at the Iron Bar in Morristown.

There, viewers cheered, screamed and applauded every time McMahon and Kai appeared on screen. The cheering was deafening by show’s end, when the team was escorted into a winner’s circle by series Sideline Reporter Jamie Little.

McMahon thanked the crowd at the Iron Bar for supporting him and wearing #teamkai T-shirts, attributing his success to colleagues in the K-9 Section.

“I wouldn’t be here without them,” he said.

One Fast Canine

He said his bond with Kai stems from raising him since he was a puppy and essentially being the center of the universe for the dog, the offspring of McMahon’s previous patrol dog, Ronan.

In episode 8, #teamkai first bested four other K-9 teams in Round One by setting the fastest time of 1:32.42 running an intricate obstacle course that involved darting through the interiors of patrol cars, navigating a specially-constructed “fire escape,” leaping over walls and swimming across a pool.

In Round Two, #teamkai’s odor-detecting skills were tested as they searched a makeshift “house” for five items – including a duffle bag, shampoo bottle and water bottle – that were dabbed with a particular scent.

By Round Three, the only K-9 teams remaining were #teamkai and #teamhunter, comprised of Red Bank Police Officer Stan Balmer and his Belgian Malinois partner, Hunter.  

Striving to beat #teamhunter’s time of 2:46.13 navigating the physically-strenuous “Doghouse” obstacle course in Round Three, McMahon and Kai sped seamlessly through ductwork, a tangled spider web and up and down stairs before Kai heeded the command to apprehend a “suspect” protected by a bite suit.

Their time in the Doghouse: 1:02.46 to #teamhunter’s time of 2:46.13.

Proud Sheriff

Morris County Sheriff James Gannon was jubilant and thanked McMahon, the K-9 Section and all other officers in the agency for their skills and professionalism.

“This is historic for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, which has been around since 1739,” Gannon said. “Very significant. Here we have Corporal McMahon and Kai, but the entire K-9 Unit is second to none.”

America’s Top Dog is a very entertaining series, but it also illuminates how natural and strong the law enforcement partnerships with canines can be, particularly when the dogs are as highly-trained, obedient and sensitive to their handlers as Kai is,” Gannon said.


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