MONTVILLE, NJ – Many dogs who are surrendered to the animal shelter not once, but twice, don’t get another chance, but Boomer not only got a second chance – he is helping Morris County residents in an important way.
After 14 weeks of training, Boomer is now a certified Morris County Sheriff’s Office bomb sniffing dog. His handler, Detective Michael Carbone, put him through his paces at a press meet and greet on Oct. 3, where Det. Sgt. Aaron Tomasini of the Sheriff’s Office K9 section explained Boomer’s training process – that had already been put to the test the day after he had completed his training.
“Boomer had been at the Parsippany Animal Shelter, surrendered twice due to his high energy,” Tomasini said. “He was about eight months old when a contact at the shelter called our office and said she thought we should check out this dog. Det. Corporal McMahon met the dog and conducted preliminary tests of the dog’s abilities, and after some further evaluation, he qualified for enrollment in the K9 training program. During the 14-week program, we train our dogs to detect 21 odors and their derivatives that make up explosives.”
The almost two-year-old German Shepherd/Labrador mix still has a lot of energy and seldom sits still. Morris County Sheriff James Gannon called Boomer a “spectacular addition” to the K9 unit and said Boomer will be put to use protecting the county’s critical infrastructures, checking suspicious packages, plus other uses.
“We use the K9s to protect ‘soft targets’ by bringing the dogs to street fairs and parades to insure the safety of the public,” he said at the demonstration. “We also have visits from the president of the United States, so they are used for that purpose as well.”
He estimated that the county’s 13 dogs respond to 350 to 800 calls per year for threats, plus the office uses the dogs for daily checks at buildings across the county, such as train stations and other structures. He said the K9 program is “robust and has worked seamlessly with local law enforcement and county agencies across the county for more than 40 years, serving its citizens.”
Boomer will stay with Carbone, who has three dogs: two who are used for explosive sniffing, including Boomer, and one who sniffs out narcotics, Tomasini said. The dogs work until they are 10 or 11 years old, he said; Carbone’s other explosive-sniffing dog is due to “retire” soon. Boomer is the office’s 29th single purpose specialty dog, according to Gannon. Other dogs are used for narcotics, for example.
Boomer showed how he does his work as he was directed to find the explosives in a row of suitcases that Carbone had laid out for the demonstration. After a minute or two, Boomer found a small amount of the explosive HMX in one of the pieces of luggage, Tomasini explained. The dog simply indicated the luggage by sitting in front of it and Tomasini located the chemical inside. Then Boomer got his “reward” – playing ball with Carbone. Next, Boomer indicated that a vehicle had explosives, and indeed, inside was a detonation cord for an explosive. Once again, Boomer played ball with his handler as his “treat.”
Assemblyman Tony Bucco attended the event to honor Boomer, give him some treats and made a joke.
“I can’t say enough about the sheriff and his staff,” Bucco said. “When you take a dog from a shelter, work with him, treat him, love him, and show him respect, he gives it back. Here you have another asset in the county that citizens will be able to use, and that says so much. Hopefully he won’t chew up this citation I’m giving him. I don’t know who gave a bomb-sniffing dog the name Boomer – it seems like it might not be the right name when you’re looking for bombs.”
The dog had already been put through his paces earlier that day when the Sheriff’s Office received a call in Denville of a suspicious person. It turned out to be an all-clear situation, Gannon said.
Tomasini calls the way that Boomer was found a fortunate outcome, and says the department was in the right place at the right time.
“Boomer loves to work – you can tell,” he said. “He’s a very sweet dog, but he has way too much energy to just hang around all day. If you look at Boomer – he’s happy. We are very grateful for him. It was a great ending to a tragic start. It goes to show you there’s a purpose for every dog.”
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