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Oak Hills Gets School Protection Dog
Oak Hills High School has a new staff member and he's not even one-year-old, yet.
Oak Hills is the first school in the region to get what's called a "school protection dog."
It's a new class of K-9 that's highly trained to sniff out drugs and weapons and goes to work at the school every day.
Local 12's Joe Webb shares the story.
Atticus the Dutch Shepherd is a new breed of K-9. The American Success Dog Training Academy in Green Township came up with a training regimen coming out of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
As you'll see from the story, he's a lot more than a drug sniffing dog.
We caught up with Atticus at the academy this morning. He was doing a little training. In seconds he sniffed out the box with the drug-filled backpack. He takes that skill set to Oak Hills High School next month.
Mark Gomer, American Success Dog Training Academy:
"To my knowledge this has never been done before. To have a fully-trained dog on police dog level to be on the faculty at a school and have that school own that dog, to my knowledge that's never been done before.
Atticus showed off his skills at the school for us this afternoon. He will routinely sniff cars in the parking lot and sweep every locker. He easily located the druggy backpack here, too. When he sniffs something suspicious he just sits and waits in place... all for the reward of getting to play with a tennis ball. Principal John Stoddard said he was quickly sold on the idea and thinks the students will love having a dog around at school.
John Stoddard, Principal:
"For the kids that don't love that it will be a pretty good deterrent to keep other things that we don't want IN the school OUT of the school."
Atticus does more than sniff out drugs and guns. In the high school auditorium, Gomer showed how the shepherd will respond to gunfire.
"If somebody came in there with a gun in a threatening situation he'd take them out in seconds."
Atticus will have a crate in the office. He will report to Oak Hills every day, but will make field trips to the district's middle schools periodically. Building monitors will keep him on a leash as he walks the halls. At night, he will go home with the principal.
"Basically, I'm just Atticus's ride to work and ride home."
School starts August 21st. Atticus will be on duty.
He is only 8 months old but has been in training since he was just a month or two old. The Oak Hills School District is buying Atticus. It's costing the district five-thousand dollars this year and five thousand next year. He should be able to work at the school for at least eight years.