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Huntsville Police K-9 Unit honored for superb street success

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Huntsville Police Department has had a K-9 unit since the early 60's, so they've had plenty time to hone their crime fighting craft. But the unit has recently been recognized for just how effective they've been over the past year, alone.

Wednesday at the Huntsville K-9 Training Range on Drake Avenue, we met Apollo. The Belgian Shepherd Malinois is a rookie on the unit, but his counterparts have certainly been hard at work. Last year, Huntsville Police and their dogs received a unit citation award for recovering more than $700,000 in stolen property and drugs off the streets. Police Chief Lewis Morris is pleased, to say the least.

"They also apprehended over 400 dangerous felons and they also got some great awards from their field trials last year; overall doing an outstanding job as far as I'm concerned," says Unit Supervisor Sergeant Joe Jenkins proudly.

His unit boasts 10 dogs covering all 3 shifts; 2 are cross-trained in patrol and narcotics and 2 work with the bomb squad.

"The use of a police K-9 is one of the safest ways to apprehend a dangerous felon; it keeps an officer out of harm's way. In drug detection work, obviously a dog has a better nose than humans do and are just the first class way to do that," Jenkins says.

Man's best friend after all -- if you're the one holding the leash.

"A well-trained dog and a good handler, that's the best of both worlds."

The Huntsville Police K-9 range serves departments as far south as Birmingham and as far west as Florence. Police units from Chattanooga were even in town Wednesday for some extra training.