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Meet Spike and Denali: Scott County Sheriff's Office K9 Deputies

Spike joined the force in 2013, Denali in June of 2021. Both are trained in narcotic searches, tracking of suspects and bite apprehension.
Credit: Scott County Sheriff's Office

SCOTT COUNTY, Iowa — Deputies with Scott County's Sheriff's Office serve and protect our communities everyday. We see them out on the streets, in their patrol cars and at their office. 

Two of those deputies may have caught your eye before. They can run faster and smell better. They don't get paid with money, but rather treats and pets.

Meet Spike and Denali, Scott County Sheriff's Office K9 Deputies.

Spike is a ten-year-old Czech Shephard, originally from the Czech Republic. 

Credit: Scott County Sheriff's Office
K9 Deputy Spike

Denali is a one-year-old Belgian Malinois. She was born in the United States.

Credit: Scott County Sheriff's Office
K9 Deputy Denali

Both dogs were purchased by Scott County Sheriff's Office through North Iowa K9, a company that specializes in training dogs for police work. 

North Iowa K9 typically uses Shepherds and Malinois' for service work. The breeds are intelligent, driven and confident. At North Iowa K9, the dogs are taught to sniff out narcotics, track suspects and apprehend them.

Spike came to Scott County Sheriff's Office back in 2013. He works with Detective Greg Hill. Detective Hill says in the eight years he's been partnered with Spike, their bond has played a huge role in their police work. 

"I know exactly what he's going to do when he's going to do it. And he knows what I'm going to do," said Detective Hill. "It's really cool with the bond that you have and the relationship, as far as patrol work, of how successful you can be when you when you work together."

Denali was sworn in as a K9 Deputy in June of 2021. She's works with Deputy Zach Ahrens, who says their bond grows every day and that Denali loves going to work. 

"As soon as I throw her collar on her she knows," said Deputy Ahrens. "When we pull up to our headquarters building she starts whining like crazy, I'll scan my badge and she'll start barking and she gets all excited."

Credit: Scott County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Ahrens and K9 Deputy Denali

In their time with the Sheriff's Office, the dogs have helped in countless cases; sniffing out drugs, searching buildings for intruders, and taking down suspects. But their work isn't like the movies.

"You can't just give them an article and say go find them," said Detective Hill. "The dogs don't know specifically what they're tracking, it's our job to try to get them on a scent of an individual to track them."

If you see the dogs out in public, officers ask you to give them space and let them work. They could be in the middle of tracking a scent! 

When the dogs do find a suspect they'll bark and alert their partners. If the suspect is acting hostile, the dogs can be used to apprehend them. 

"The last thing you want to do is deploy them on to someone to have them bite... we're not in this line of work to injure or hurt someone," said Detective Hill. "The nice thing about dogs is a lot of times, just with us showing up on scene and the mere presence of them, a lot of times will deescalate situations."

To keep their training sharp, the dogs practice their skills weekly, even daily. Once a year, the dogs are re-certified by an unbiased third-party. Both must perform up to a certain standard to keep working.

"It's important that we keep the training up so when situations come about, our success rate will be as high as possible," added Detective Hill.

At the end of each work day, the dogs go home with the officers and get to be like any other dogs. Deputy Ahrens describes 18-month-old Denali as energetic and friendly. He said she loves to play, run laps in the yard and gets along well with his family. 

Detective Hill describes Spike as a dog with an off switch. He says at work, Spike is highly driven. But at home, he's everything you can ask of man's best friend; calm, loving and friendly. 

"You wouldn't know his work drive unless you saw him at work," said Detective Hill. "He knows when he's at work, and he knows what he has to do."

Between work and play, the dogs have become more than just partners, both officers describe them as best friends.

"We're basically an extended family," said Detective Hill. "I always say I got the best job in the world because they say dogs are your best friend, and I get to bring my best friend to work with me every day."