Military dog-training demonstration open to the public

Published 11:18 am Monday, September 12, 2011

WALTERS— American K-9 Interdiction has invited the public to a demonstration of the military dog training it wants to do on four properties in Southampton County.

“It’s just to educate them, to alleviate their fears,” said Paul Roushia, co-owner of the dog training facility in Walters. “To squelch the rumors and innuendos. To let them see firsthand what we do and how we do it.”

Peter Copeland won’t miss the event, which will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at the facility’s headquarters at 4007 Burdette Road.

“Anytime you have to make a decision, the more facts you have, the better the decision you can make,” said Copeland, a member of the Southampton County’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Board, at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, will be asked to give American K-9 Interdiction permission to train its dogs on the four properties. An earlier request involving training the dogs on nine county properties was met with opposition from residents due to simulated machine gunfire and explosives.

American K-9 withdrew five properties due to the opposition. The remaining properties it would like to use include the former Boykins Elementary School at 17219 Pittman Road, owned by the county; the former Ivor Elementary School at 7486 Proctor’s Bridge Road, also owned by the county; land on Crossroads Drive near Franklin owned by Green Waste Recycling; and a parcel at 36465 General Mahone Boulevard owned by Charles and Kathleen Clark in the Berlin-Ivor area.

American K-9 Interdiction trains Labrador retrievers to detect explosives. Operating in Isle of Wight County since 2008, the company would train at different locations every day, but training would not occur at the same location day after day.

The hours will generally be from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each training group is comprised of trainers and about 15 dogs. It is possible that as many as two training groups might be at any one location on any one day. Typically, trainers set up a situation and engage one dog in training at a time. The training activity involves the detection of different types of explosives.

Small quantities of explosives are hidden on the property, and the dogs are trained to detect the explosives.

David Holland, a member for the Board of Zoning Appeals, will attend the demonstration.

“I feel it’s important to hear all sides on this issue,” Holland said. “If they want to operate in Southampton County, it’s important for all members of the community to look at what they have to offer.”

In law enforcement for 35 years, Holland is familiar with this type of dog training, but not with American K-9 Interdiction’s program.

Co-member Glenn Updike also plans to attend.

“I think I should be well informed of the whole situation before I make up my mind on any issue,” Updike said. “I’ve heard one side. Now I’m willing to listen to the other side.”