CHATHAM, NJ - Jim VanValen got a rise out of the St. Patrick School students when he described how his K-9 partner could track down a burglar who came into the school and stole all the homework assignments.

The Morris County Sheriff's K-9 Unit came to St. Patrick School in Chatham on Wednesday morning to give a talk on how the dogs are used to smell for explosives, accelerants, and track down humans on the run, during the school's "Genius Hour."

"The theme of the Genius Hour is how animals help us in everyday life," St. Patrick Principal Dr. Christine Ross said.

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Members of the Morris County K-9 Unit, Mike Carbone and VanValen, explained how the dogs are trained and gave some demonstrations with K-9 members Po, Boomer and Cinders.

The Morris County K-9 Unit has 14 officers and seven dogs who are on call 24 hours, seven days a week. The dogs never leave the officers.

"Not only are they partners at work, they come home with us," Carbone, who currently has four dogs, said. "When they're not working, they do fun activities that other dogs do like hiking and swimming." 

Boomer, a nine-month-old German Shepherd-Lab mix, is a rescue from a shelter and Carbone is training the dog to sniff out explosives.

"It takes a year of training, six hours a day, to teach the dogs," Carbone said.

Sheriff's K-9 officers give a demonstration on how dogs are trained to apprehend suspects

K-9 officer Mike Carbone shows how he trains his 9-month-old dog, Boomer, to sniff for explosives

K-9 Officer Jim VanValen shows how Po obeys commands and plays tug-of-war