New K-9 officer joins Fayette County Drug Task Force
Fulfilling a dream to become a canine handler, Jason Hayes of Dawson has a new partner, as the Perryopolis corporal with the Police Officer and Fayette Drug Task Force detective now rides with Mako, his 18-month-old Belgium Malinois.
“Ever since I was in the police academy I wanted to be a K-9 handler, but there is so much work involved and there aren't a lot of positions open,” Hayes said.
Hayes has been with the Fayette Drug Task Force for many years, and last year the department thought that the addition of a K-9 dog would be a great asset to the streets of the county, but the question was how could they raise the needed funding.
“We were looking to get donations and see how we could do it,” Hayes said.
But a generous donation from Dr. Charles and Alison Tucker of Rostraver Township made the reality of the K-9 occur much quicker, as the pair decided to donate the needed funding to acquire the dog for the task force and for Hayes to partner with.
“We trained our dog with Mike Garrow,” said Alison Tucker of the trainer who owns and operates Garrow Canine training in Charleroi and who has trained numerous canines for police departments and organizations over the years. “He had spoke of his other jobs and the dog was mentioned. My husband and I believe that you should not take from the community without giving back, and this was a way we could give back. It was something that we could do that we were honored to do.”
“The timing was perfect,” Hayes said of the acquisition of the funds from the Tuckers in the spring. “The funding became available, and Mako was available. It worked out perfect.”
The pair began training at the Garrow facility in March, and Hayes needed to do some juggling with his busy schedule to make the training work.
“I went part time because of my schedule, so it took longer,” Hayes said, explaining that Mako had only basic training when they were paired so a lot of work was involved to get him up and ready. “He has been fantastic so far.”
Mako was recently certified in narcotics and will now be put to work when and where he is needed, working with Hayes on his shift in Perryopolis and also all throughout the county.
“He will go to whoever requests him,” Hayes said. “We've already been out.”
Hayes said that the pair now also will be starting patrol classes at Garrow's, which will add even more training.
Hayes said that Mako is now a part of his family, sharing the home with wife Amber and their chocolate Lab Coco.
“He is such a good dog, and he has become part of my family,” Hayes said. “He knows when he has his vest on that its time to work but when his vest comes off, he's just like any other dog.”
Tucker said that she and her husband couldn't be more pleased that they were able to bring Mako to the county and to the area to help with narcotics searches and raids.
“With Mako out there, it will a little safer out there,” Tucker said. “He will help to make the kids safer, make the community safer, and keep Jason safe. Our police officers are out there every day, putting their lives on the line and they need all the help that they can get. This was just something that we could do and we were glad to do it.”
Mako also soon will receive his official badge and start his extended training in a few weeks.
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.