Service dogs teach drug awareness

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:07

STANHOPE — Sussex County Sheriff’s Officers Kieran McMorrow and Mitch Ellicott, along with their German Shepherd partners Atlas and Blaze, gave on assembly on drug enforcement to Stanhope’s Valley Road School during Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is the third week in October and is the largest drug prevention campaign in the county. McMorrow and Atlas demonstrated their skills, Atlas sniffing out narcotics and sitting when he found them. Blaze is a search and rescue dog that can track suspects and help find missing persons. At four years old he was originally trained by the Seeing Eye in Morristown but needed a career change after it was discovered he had excessive energy. Atlas was acquired by a local breeder and trained to be a police dog from the start. McMorrow and Ellicott explained that the dogs are actually officers, with badges and protective gear. McMorrow and Ellicott are called "K9 Handlers,” and are trained in canine first aid as well as how to work as a team with the dogs. "We live with our dogs 24/7," said McMorrow. "They are officers and do a huge service to the county both in the area of law enforcement and protecting the public.” Both Atlas and Blaze drew gasps from students as they performed their jobs, sitting next to a package with marijuana in it and searching out a teacher from the woods.