diegoMADISONVILLE, Ky. (8/6/14) — Canine handler and Narcotics Detective Blake Carlisle and K-9 Unit Diego gave a demonstration at the Madisonville Lions Club luncheon Wednesday, July 30.

“I’ve had my dog Diego now for about a year,” said Carlisle. “He is a 3-year-old German shepherd from Czechoslovakia that was imported to a vendor in Scottsville, where we bought him.”

Carlisle said he went through an eight-week course to learn all the different commands to be able to direct Diego.

“I went through an eight-week course in Scottsville to learn how to handle him,” said Carlisle. “Diego is about 75 pounds, which is a medium size dog and responds to German commands.”

Before Carlisle was able to become Diego’s handler, he had to go through an interviewing process.

“We went through an interview process, just like you would do for a promotion,” said Carlisle. “I went in front of an interview board… I had two interviews. There wasn’t a written exam at all. They look at your personnel files and background and choose from that.”

Carlisle demonstrated a typical “drug sweep” with Diego, by hiding a locked tin can of marijuana in the facility.

“Just because the marijuana is in the metal tin doesn’t mean he knows what he is supposed to be finding,” said Carlisle. “He doesn’t know what that metal tin is just yet. He hardly ever sees those things and we normally train on vehicles or buildings and always go through an open door to search.”

Carlisle said that his form of “payment” to Diego is a tennis ball.

“I pay him with his ‘pride and joy,’ which is a tennis ball,” said Carlisle. “He goes absolutely crazy over it. That is what he does all his work for… a tennis ball. I have to show him excitement when he does his job; otherwise he gets bored and won’t want to do it anymore.”

Carlisle said Diego is an aggressive indication dog.

“Diego is an aggressive indication dog,” said Carlisle. “This just means that, when he finds what he is looking for, he will scratch at it or if he can’t scratch, he will bite at it. Passive indicator dogs, when they find what they are looking for, will sit and look at it.”

Diego is trained to search for marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and crack.

“His payment is everything to him,” said Carlisle. “So, the funny thing is… I could have put a bag of tennis balls and sit them in a trash can and he would pay no attention to them whatsoever. What it is, is the smell of the drug is synonymous with his tennis ball. So, when he smells the drug, he thinks ‘oh my tennis ball is in there.’”

Carlisle said Diego was a $15,000 dog and used for other purposes than just sniffing for drugs.

“Diego is a dual purpose canine, which is for the dog and training,” said Carlisle. “This means he also bites. So, if someone runs, we can send him to apprehend that person.”

Diego was mostly paid through community.

“The police department collected donations from businesses and individuals from the community,” said Carlisle. “This helped us out tremendously.”

Carlisle said there are only two drug dogs in the county.

“I and Joe Stratton from the Sheriff’s office are the only two in the county who have dogs,” said Carlisle. “We stay pretty busy. We get called a lot for search warrants. His nose is 10,000 more times better than ours and the chances of him finding something hidden in a house are a lot better than if we were to go in and look. We have also been called to traffic stops to search cars.”

Carlisle said that they do a routine drug sweep at the local schools.

“The schools like us to come every six months or so,” said Carlisle. “I have been to both high schools and the middle schools. I have to call for more help from other places… it’s just too much ground to cover for one dog. Diego wears out quick. When he gets so excited and comes down from that adrenaline… he just wears out fast.”

Carlisle said that Diego lives with him.

“I have a kennel in my backyard for him,” said Carlisle. “I feed and water him every day. He’s just like a pet. However, he only listens to me. My thinking behind this is I am the ‘pack leader’ and that’s how he sees me. I want him to protect me.”

Carlisle said overall, Diego has found 14 pounds of marijuana and over $2,000 worth of meth.

“He finds this stuff pretty easily,” said Carlisle. “We are really impressed by it. He’s only been out doing this for eight months.”

Amber Averitt
SurfKY Lead News Reporter
Photo by Amber Averitt

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