JOPLIN, MO. --They don't always get a lot of credit - but Joplin police dogs play an important role in fighting crime. Action 12's Morgan Schutters joined the team today to catch them in action.
The Joplin Police K-9 unit has tackled a lot of crime.
In 2010, the dogs searched for drugs 767 times - and it doesn't stop there. They also track suspects and can serve as backup for their human partner.
Joplin Police make it as real as possible; They're training their dogs for tracking down suspects.
K-9 police might look like a household pet - but you don't want these pups on your scent.
The dogs know when it's time to be social ... and when they're on the job.
"The instant you say a command their demeanor completely changes from friendly happy go lucky to I'm ready to work," Says Nick Jimenez, a K-9 officer at JPD.
This is Gunner. He is a 4 year old Shepherd mix and has a nose for crime.
"Our dogs are such a powerful tool for our police department," Travis Walthall says. He is the unit leader for the K-9 department of JPD.
In a building search ... the dog's job is to pinpoint a suspect's location.
From the police station to the community ... Gunner knows when the ball gets put up its time to work.
"They'll be twisting in their kennels running around wagging their tail because they know they get to go find bad guys," Jimenez says.
There are five police dogs at JPD... each with their own personality.
"He's the best partner an officer could ever ask for - he never complains his favorite part of the day is going to work," Jimenez says.
The most loyal companion.
"They're with us 24-7 you become very close with your dog while you're working him," Walthall says.
The pups come from Europe ... But officers train them here in Joplin.
They're worth more than 5-thousand dollars each.
The dogs work for about 8 to 10 years old, and then retire.