Brad Meyer has built his career on training dogs. As a law enforcement officer for more than 15 years with Lassen and Butte County sheriff’s offices, he’s logged thousands of hours working with multiple furry partners and is credited with starting Lassen County’s K-9 unit. Last year, he branched out on his own and opened Meyer’s Police K-9 Training in Chico, which sells dogs as well as trains them specifically for law enforcement. Services range from obedience courses to tracking and narcotics enforcement. The company currently has dog-maintenance contracts with law enforcement offices in Trinity and Glenn counties as well as the cities of Oroville and Orland. Meyer and his company’s two other trainers, Brett Smith and Garrett Snyder, have more than 50 years of combined experience in law enforcement and dog training. Visit www.meyerspolicek9.com for information.
What sort of personality are you looking for in a police dog?
We want to make sure that the dog is social, so we can be around the dog, pet the dog and other people and other police officers can be around the dogs. But also, in that same manner, the dog has to have those characteristics to be put in stressful situations and carry through with the job that he has to do.
What are the dogs trained to do?
In law enforcement, you’re gonna train them to find the odor of the human. So when we tell a dog to go out and look for somebody, we are telling them to look for that odor that that person is putting off. We also train them to look for explosives, narcotics and cadavers.
What dog breeds do you train?
The main image when people think about a police dog is the German shepherd. We have a German shepherd right now that we are getting ready to sell to a law enforcement agency. But we also train Belgian Malinois—it’s like a small breed of the German shepherd.
Your first police dog was a Lab. Is that unusual?
No, no. Not at all. The first time I say “a police dog,” you think that the dog has to bite, instantly. There are thousands upon thousands of service dogs out there that utilize different breeds other than the German shepherd. A Lab is a phenomenal search dog—cadaver or search and rescue dogs or narcotics dogs. That was what my first dog was, a narcotics dog. Their willingness to go out and search is just insane. That’s what we want.
What sorts of situations have you been in with your dogs?
I’ve put my dogs in a lot of different situations that are extremely frightening for a dog—you can only imagine. We have had car deployments where people are inside of cars and will not come out and the dog jumps in through the window. Attic deployments, underneath houses, outside areas of berry bushes for miles and miles. Once the dogs are in that drive mode, their drive takes over and they just continue doing what they do.