South Carolina dog training operation moving to Walters

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WALTERS—American K9 Interdiction — a police and military dog training facility in southern Isle of Wight County — is moving its South Carolina operation to Walters.

It will mean 100 more dogs at the Burdette Road facility, a dozen new jobs and a need for more properties for training dogs in Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.

Military personnel also are expected to come here so they can be involved with the dogs’ training.

“We want to consolidate all of our dog training operations at the training complex we have here,” said Mike Dougherty, vice president of business development for American K9 Interdiction.

American K9 last year spent about $1 million to renovate a former minimum-security prison and juvenile boot camp on Burdette Road. The company also built a 200-space dog kennel, which will be full with the additional dogs from South Carolina.

About 60 percent of the new dogs will be Labrador retrievers, which will be trained to detect hidden explosives, Dougherty said. The dogs listen to commands from up to 300 yards away.

The rest will be German shepherds and Malinois, which is a shepherd breed. These dogs will be trained for police work, Dougherty said.

Ten employees from the South Carolina facility are expected to transfer to Walters, Dougherty said. Another dozen trainers and administrative support personnel will be needed. Jobs pay $30,000 to $50,000 annually.

American K9 needs to find vacant buildings and properties to train dogs, said Marketing Director John DeTerlizzi.

“I would say our biggest focus would be the interior buildings for search work, and if we can acquire a half dozen properties in Southampton or Isle of Wight, that would round out the portfolio very nicely,” DeTerlizzi said.

American K9 trains its dogs on 12 to 15 properties in Isle of Wight County.

“Isle of Wight has over accommodated our needs,” Dougherty said.

“We were fortunate to have property owners come forward,” DeTerlizzi added.

After a battle, Southampton County officials in September agreed to allow American K9 to train dogs at All-American Auto, a junkyard in the Berlin-Ivor area, and on the 45-acre Crowder-White Excavating property outside Franklin.

American K9 had initially asked to use nine properties in Southampton County, but withdrew five when residents opposed it. The company also dropped two more.

American K9 also was given permission to train dogs on 3,500 acres in Murfreesboro, N.C. The property includes pastures, crop fields, miles of dirt roads and water features.

Property owners donate the use of their land and buildings.

“Most of the folks do it from the goodness of their heart and to give back to the military,” DeTerlizzi said.

American K9, which employs 60, hopes for continued growth.

“We are actively pursuing different business opportunities and are going overseas for more business,” he said.

Anyone wishing to allow the use of a building or property for training can call DeTerlizzi at 304-9600, ext 311.