CLARION - A four-legged member of the Wright County sheriff's department received top recognition for her work during an annual certification event late last Month.
Ali, a 7-year-old Dutch Shepard who serves as the canine officer with the Wright County sheriff's office, placed first in the vehicle search category at the United States Police Canine Association's annual certification trials, which were held in Marshalltown during the week of March 17.
Not only did Ali receive top honors in the category, but, according to Sheriff Jason Schluttenhofer, she also was the only dog to receive a perfect score in the trial.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Adam Nerlien, a Wright County sheriff’s deputy, demonstrates how the canine officer, Ali, would look for drugs hidden in a vehicle.
The sheriff's office participates in the event every year.
"It's a situation where the USPCA puts on different things for the dogs to do," Schluttenhofer said. "They do tracking, building searches and vehicle searches, and they get graded on each individual station they do."
He said the department is proud of both Ali and her handler, Deputy Adam Nerlien.
"He's put in a lot of work with the dog and the efforts really showed," Schluttenhofer said.
Nerlien said he and Ali work very well together.
"I've been working with her for four years and we have a great relationship both on the job and at home," he said.
When not on duty, Nerlien said Ali lives with him and his family.
The perfect score is a proud moment for Ali, but, even more importantly, it lends credibility to her work.
"The trials help to certify the dogs in these skills," Nerlien said. "If we have to go to court, this will help show that she is certified and qualified."
That work includes searches for drugs, according to Schluttenhofer.
"It's a good representation of the sheriff's office," he said. "Adam trains a lot with the dog and puts in a lot of time with her."