Joey Keelin and Narco copy

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (11/30/19) — Madisonville’s newest police officer has the nose to sniff out illegal drugs brought into the city.

After all, scientists say a dog’s sense of smell is 100 times greater than a human’s, interpreting the world through their snouts.

Madisonville Police Department Officer Joey Keelin and his new partner, K-9 Narco, seem to enjoy working together as a crime-fighting team. Narco did not veer too far from the new handler, keeping an eye his every move.

The very alert German shepherd from Slovakia arrived in the states several weeks ago with a passport, the officer said. The K-9 is 1.5 years old and now resides with Keelin, a five-year veteran of MPD. They became partners five weeks ago that began with several hours of training. The single-purpose animal had previously undergone specific training to sniff out a variety of illegal substances before joining Keelin.

“His sole purpose is to detect the odor for narcotics,” Keelin said, which includes methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin in addition to marijuana.

In the event Narco comes across a deadly drug like fentanyl, Keelin is equipped with a special Narcan kit just for the K-9, which is designed to reverse symptoms of incidental exposure, similar to the overdose antidote kept on hand for officers.

Keelin explained he has received training on how to spot the signs and symptoms of exposure to fentanyl.

“He’s so mild-tempered and calm,“ Keeling noted, and the two have their own mode of communication. “It takes about two weeks for trainers to imprint each odor of narcotics. Currently, we train 16 hours a month, at least.”

Dogs are conditioned to detect certain odors during the specialized sessions, Keelin explained. They work on technique with regional K-9 handlers from other departments across the region.

K-9 Diego, a dual purpose dog, recently retired from service at MPD.

Narco seemed to be very interested in his red chew-toy, while working with the officer around the city this week. Keelin said the toy is the K-9’s reward after completing assigned work.

Joey Keeling and Narco 2

After Keelin first took on the role as K-9 hander, he was worried about how Narco and his pet Rottweiler would get along at home, but they quickly got adjusted and like hanging out during the shepherd’s off-duty time.

“Narco is mild-mannered and seems to like everyone,” the officer said. “We’re developing a bond and I foresee no issues with him. I think we’re all going to get along just fine.”

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