CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — DARE Officer Sergeant Dale Thomas handles K9 Michael. This five-year-old Belgian Malinois has one mission, which is to search for explosives.

“Mikey doesn’t know what he’s looking for, if he did he probably wouldn’t get out of the car,” said Thomas with a laugh. “He just knows when he finds what he’s looking for and he’s accurate that he gets to play with his ball.”

Mikey is trained to sniff out 14 different components that are typically used in the creation of about 7,000 different explosives. Some of the items would be expected:

  • Dynamite
  • Sodium Nitrate
  • Gunpowder

“The sheriff’s idea was, ‘Where do most of our bomb threats take place?’ In the schools,” said Thomas while explaining the rationale for a bomb-sniffing dog being teamed up with a DARE officer.

Thomas is the sergeant of all the school resource officers in the four school districts in Pickaway County: Westfall, Logan Elm, Teays Valley, and Circleville.

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office K9 canine Mikey
(Photo by Tony Mirones) Pickaway County Sheriff K9 Mikey plays with his handler. Mikey is a single use K9 who is trained to locate explosives. Here, he is playing with his handler DARE Officer Sergeant Dale Thomas.

When there is a threat, the area where students will be moved to is checked first. When the safe area is clear, the students are moved and then the threatened area is checked. Thomas will unitize other bomb detection K-9s from other departments as a mutual aid effort.

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Because Mikey is around children he was not trained to track or even attack someone. His sole purpose is to sniff out explosives.

“I don’t have a command to send him after somebody,” said Thomas. “The only time Mikey would probably get aggressive with someone is if they attacked me.”

Should he be used to track, he would be more likely to be used to find people who are lost and not wanted.

NOTE: DO NOT approach any service animal while they are working. Whether the animal is on a mission with the police or working with a person with disabilities, always ask the animal’s handler if you may interact with the animal.