K-9 Bane, with New Hanover County Master Deputy G. Pedersen, tracks a scent. Bane, a Hanoverian hound, gained national attention
when he found a kidnapped girl in the woods in September 2016.
Hanno’s training day isn’t over. Next up is an apprehension
drill. Stegall dons a padded bite sleeve. Hanno starts barking and
snapping his fearsome jaws. Gregory gives the 90-pound canine
the command, and he’s on his target in a flash. He clamps down
on Stegall’s arm, pulling the man to the ground.
He keeps his powerful grip until his handler gives the release com-mand.
Hanno immediately lets go and begins to look for his toy.
“When Sgt. Stegall had the sleeve on, all he wanted to do was
crush his arm,” Day says. “They’re trained to crush it and hold
him until we get there. But after that, when he took the sleeve
off he came to the Sarge and wanted to play. It’s like Jekyll and
Hyde. They can turn it on and turn it off.”
The dogs might be in it for the playtime, but being a police
K-9 — and a K-9 handler — is serious business.
“We’re going to the hot calls,” Stegall says. “We’re going to the
armed robberies. We’re going to the shootings. We’re going to the
breaking and enterings with forced entries, kicked-in doors. We’re
going to that stuff.”
It can be a high-stress job.
“We have two people to worry about, our dog’s safety, plus our
safety,” says D. Soward, a corporal with the Carolina Beach PD
and the handler of K-9 Nox. “When there is a dangerous situa-tion,
we’re the front-runners typically. We’re the first ones in. It’s
what you got in the job for.”
The Wilmington PD is responsible for the 117,000-plus that
live in the city limits. The sheriff ’s department handles service
calls for the nearly 100,000 that live outside the city limits.
There are times when the departments overlap, depending on
The K-9 units primarily exist to augment and aid the officers
on the street.
“Our main objective is to assist patrol,” Pellegrino says. “We’re
not assigned to a sector, a geographical area. We float the city.
When patrol is busy, we assist them on calls. If there’s an area
that’s getting hit with a lot of breaking and enterings, we’ll go
over there and be visible in those areas and try to deter it some.”
Patrol duty is handled by dual-purpose canines, dogs trained in
narcotics detection, apprehension, tracking and evidence recovery.
They are the German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, breeds
known for their strength, intelligence and agility.
“That is considered a patrol canine,” Stegall says. “It does
everything. They can work a lot quicker than a normal deputy
can. Say a K-9’s going into a building that’s just been broken
into. They can go in and clear that building or find that bad guy
a lot quicker than we can.”
It doesn’t hurt that they look and sound ferocious, traits that
come in handy when chasing the bad guys.
“It is a factor,” Stegall says. “They are intimidated, and a lot of
times they will give up.”
The sheriff ’s department has five dual-purpose dogs, the
Wilmington PD four and the Carolina Beach PD two. The sher-iff
’s office also has three specialty K-9s, trained to search for miss-ing
persons, and for bomb and drug detection.
The latter group includes the county’s superstar dog, K-9 Bane.
The Hanoverian hound made national news when he found a
kidnapped 6-year-old girl in September 2016. Bane tracked her
into the woods off River Road and found her chained to a tree.
“When Bane found the little girl, we had a lady from Colorado
send a first aid kit designed specifically for K-9s,” says Lt. J.J.
Brewer, public information officer of the sheriff ’s department.
“We had people sending spa treatments and goodie bags. People
were calling from all over the country, sending cards.”
“We’re going to the hot
calls,” Stegall says. “We’re
going to the armed rob-beries.
We’re going to the
shootings. We’re going to
the breaking and enter-ings
with forced entries,
kicked-in doors. We’re
going to that stuff.”
It can be a