K-9 Thor Wears Mask

July 27, 2020

Police K-9s are mostly known for sniffing out narcotics and tracking down suspects or missing persons, but Bluefield’s K-9s are making time for public health promotions and birthday party appearances.

Bluefield Police Department K-9 Thor recently did his part against the COVID-19 pandemic by doing what many humans don’t like to do: Put on a mask.

Both federal and state authorities are urging the public to use masks, so Thor demonstrated the right away and the wrong ways to wear one. The photos were posted on the department’s Facebook page.

“I think Kevin (Fleming) had seen it somewhere with some other program. We thought it would be a good idea with our Explorers Program,” said Thor’s handler Lt. B.W. Copenhaver.

Children are more likely to heed Thor and his fellow K-9s than adults when it comes to advice about health issues such as wearing masks.

“They do, hands down,” Copenhaver said.

When K-9 units started working the department again, one goal was to have them doing more than traditional police dog duties.

“I think the biggest thing is whenever we reinstated the (K-9) unit, we wanted to make it more than things like the eradication of narcotics,” Copenhaver recalled. “I wanted us to be involved more with the schools and the community. That’s why we wanted to do more festivals, the ball games, things like that.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed many public events, Thor, Gregor, Ace and Maverick frequently attended fairs and sporting events, sometimes wearing equipment such as special goggles and boots that help protect them during searches and pursuits in heavy brush and other environments which could injure them. The K-9s have proven to be a good way to start conversations with the public and encourage them to ask questions. Children especially like Thor and his colleagues.

“We want to educate the kids on the service dogs,” Copenhaver said. “One of the things we do is teach kids not to pet a service dog or any dog unless you have permission from the owner.”

Copenhaver said when Thor started duty, one goal was to use him to help educate the public.

“I can’t even tell you all of the things he has done. He’s even been to birthday parties,” he stated.

Copenhaver and other officers were eating lunch one day when a woman came over and asked if Thor could come to her son’s birthday party. The other dogs have visited birthday parties, too.

Thor recently performed some public service when a series of pictures appeared on the police department’s Facebook page. He demonstrated the right and the wrong ways to wear face coverings or masks.

Like many humans, Thor doesn’t care for masks, but after several attempts and plenty of coaxing, he did his part to help protect the public’s health.

“He’s been phenomenal for us. He really works well in the community,” Copenhaver said.

Thor and the other K-9s have played a big role in the department’s Explorer Program which offers fun activities and education to local children. The program saw its largest attendance when more than 20 children attended a session at Tiffany Manor before the COVID-19 pandemic made public gatherings hazardous.

“It’s been a great experience,” Copenhaver said of the Explorers Program. “There’s no question about that.”

And the pandemic won’t shut down the dogs’ public service duty. One future activity will feature K-9 officers reading books aloud with their dogs and posting videos for children.

“We hated it when COVID-19 hit,” Copenhaver stated, “But we won’t let it stop us or slow us down.”

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    June 2, 2021

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    More Recent News