NORTH SMITHFIELD – Alert to bad guys: K9 cop Joery is on patrol, and when he takes a bite out of crime, he really does use his teeth.
And judging by the brisk wag of his tail and what appeared distinctly like the wrinkle of a smile along his canine jawline, the four-year-old Belgian Malinois seems to enjoy his work.
In a demonstration of his talents behind the police station Tuesday, the powerful, ruddy-brown four-legger got sicced on Officer Greg Landry, clad in a puffy, matted suit for protection. On command from his handler, Officer Jay Rainville, Joery bolted toward Landry with frighteningly single-minded determination and latched his jaws onto Landry’s wrist with a lock that would make the manufacturers of Vice-Grips proud.
Joery was so adamant about hanging on that Landry and Rainville were able to lift the 60-pound animal two feet off the ground, shake him a little bit while he dangled in the air, all with his jaws locked on Landry’s wrist. He just wouldn’t let go, at least not until he was told to.
“He’s got a pretty mean bite and he hits you pretty hard,” said Landry, who was either shaken or invigorated by the violent animal encounter. It was hard to tell.
Joery (pronounced “YU-ree) was born in Holland and looks similar to a German Shepherd, except he’s a little more sleek and the coloration of his fur is akin to that of a fisher cat, with a little black around the snout. Joery was initially trained as a bomb sniffer for war zones before he was donated to the local police force by the Rhode Island State Police nearly a year ago.
Yesterday’s demonstration marks his official induction into the ranks of the North Smithfield police after he and Rainville, the handler, simultaneously completed a rigorous seven-week training program in which they were paired liked podded peas, which is kind of the whole idea.
The training strengthened the bond between handler and dog – a prerequisite for the successful deployment of dogs in police work – and turned Joery into a more well-rounded K9, according to Rainville. Should the need ever arise, he can still sniff out explosives, but he’s just as good at tracking down errant human beings, whether they’re missing senior citizens, lost children or criminals in flight.
And as yesterday’s animal show-and-tell so graphically demonstrated, he’s good at tackling criminal suspects on command.
“You can see how the aggression is up when you put him in situations when he needs to bite,” said Rainville.
Man and school-finished beast have been on patrol together since Nov. 9, backing up each other during the dark, dangerous hours of the third shift.
One chore Joery will not be called upon to do is use his nasal talents to ferret out drugs hidden in cars, homes or other hiding places. Rainville said bomb-sniffers like Joery can also find firearms, ammunition, and related weaponry, but they generally cannot be cross-trained to locate narcotics.
During the demonstration, Rainville held Joery on a leash while Landry stood about 25 yards away, gearing up for the inevitable. Rainville pretended that Landry was an uncooperative criminal and repeatedly ordered him to show his hands or he would unleash the dog and he would be bitten.
Landry refused, and Rainville let go of the leash, freeing Joery like a bolt from an arrow. The dog was just as disciplined and responsive when, finally, Rainville ordered him to stop biting Landry. Joery dutifully sidled up to his handler and rested belly-down on the cold pavement, looking up at his handler with doleful eyes as if waiting for the next command.
“I’ve gotten to bond with him,” says Rainville. “He’s come to work with me every day since I got him.”
A dog like Joery is worth about $25,000, according to Police Chief Steve Reynolds, but he’s been pretty much a freebie for the town, thanks largely to the state police.
Going forward, Reynolds said, the dog’s veterinary expenses and food will be paid for through private donations, and he will be sheltered at home with Rainville.
“It doesn’t cost the town anything to have this program, which I think is wonderful,” said Reynolds.
The chief credited Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton with facilitating the donation of the dog from the state police. On hand to watch Joery’s police skills, Hamilton seemed impressed by the dog’s tenacity and drive.
“We have such a great, innovative group of people,” Hamilton said. “They’re always looking for new ways to protect and serve.”
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo