Springer into Action

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When you think of police K9 your mind draws images of the rigid German shepherd or active Belgian Malinois. So you can imagine some surprise earlier this month when the Farmersville Police Department introduced the City Council to its newest K9 – a Springer Spaniel named Keavy.

A little more than a year old, Keavy has all the energy and enthusiasm of a puppy combined with the drive of a trained K9. Bred for hunting in thick brush, Springer Spaniels have extremely sensitive noses that can sniff out nearly any scent in both urban and rural settings.

“She’s a blast to be around,” said Keavy’s handler, Officer Ashley Hettick. “I love being a K9 handler and she is a great partner.”

Since going to active duty on Dec. 16, Hettick said Keavy has performed extremely well. She has had narcotic finds at Farmersville High School (FHS), Farmersville Junior High School (FJHS) and on a traffic stop in the last three weeks.

“She is very driven with her nose to the ground all the time,” Hettick said. “Work is play time for her and she loves to play.”

Hettick officially became the second school resource officer for Farmersville Unified School District on Nov. 1. Hettick began working as an officer with Farmersville Police Department on Feb. 7, 2015 after three years with the COS Police Department. This is Hettick’s first time as a K9 handler. She said unlike an officer searching for drugs, a detection dog cannot be accused of bias or subjectively choosing which bags to search.

“The dog doesn’t care what kind of clothes you wear or know if you have ever been caught using drugs,” Hettick said. “The dog only knows what she smells and she is very accurate.”

Hettick and Keavy do weekly searches of the high school and junior high school rotating between the FHS and FJHS campuses each week. If there is cause for concern at Freedom Elementary school, Hettick said she will take Keavy to do a sweep of the campus.

“The age kids are getting involved with drugs is getting younger but we have never had a find at the elementary school,” Hettick said. “She’s such a valuable asset in so many ways.”

Keavy is Farmersville PD’s third K9. The other two are Belgian Malinois trained for patrol. Gabby is partnered with Sgt. Troy Everett and Jace is partnered with Officer Darrell Locke. Unlike her more aggressive counterparts, Springer Spaniel detection dogs are much more like traditional domestic pets. Keavy is hyper, playful and friendly, which is great for school campuses. “The kids love her,” Hettick said.

“I think she helps make me more approachable and to build rapport with kids that have a difficulty opening up.”

One of the challenges of training a Springer Spaniel is not to treat the K9 like a pet. Due to her friendly nature, Hettick said Keavy is still segregated from the other household pets.

“No matter how cute she is, Keavy is still a tool for police work,” Hettick said. “You can undo a lot of training in just a few days.”

Lt. Jay Brock, head of Farmersville’s K9 program, discovered Keavy and her sister Faith while searching for good K9 candidates in Southern California. Faith is currently working as a custody dog at the Main Jail for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. Keavy and her training cost about $8,000 and was paid for through community donations by Farmersville residents through various fund-raisers.

“We really appreciate the support of the community,” Hettick said. “All we had to do was ask.”

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