State grants give University bomb dog

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While bomb-sniffing dog Jerry sees his job as a game, his success or failure can mean life or death.

Jerry is the campus police’s newest member, given by a state grant that included Ohio State University and Youngstown State University also receiving bomb-sniffing dogs.

The dogs were spread throughout the state so they could be utilized by many areas, Campus Police Capt. Michael Campbell said.

“It made more sense to put them throughout the state,” he said.

Eventually, every state university that wishes to have a detection dog will receive one from the state, Campus Police Chief Monica Moll said.

While Jerry will be used to sniff out explosives during emergencies, he will also be used to sweep areas before large events, such as sports games and political speeches, Campbell said.

Fake bomb threats can also be responded to more quickly, rather than shutting down the area for an extended period of time, Moll said.

Jerry is capable of detecting about 20 different explosive materials, including C4 and dynamite, Lt. John Stewart, his handler, said.

Stewart said dogs’ noses are incredibly sensitive and are much more efficient at detecting specific odors than humans are.

“The dog’s nose … is definitely amazing and they can take in smells better than you or I. If you were to take in, say a bowl of soup, you would smell that bowl of soup maybe as chicken noodle soup,” Stewart said. “The dog doesn’t do that: He smells the chicken, the broth, the seasonings.”

Stewart volunteered to work with Jerry and trained with him for five weeks in Columbus. He learned how to work together with Jerry and learned about the different odors he can detect.

Stewart explained working with an animal as “a completely different experience” than as having one as a pet.

For Jerry, this work is a game. Stewart said it was how he was trained, and because of this he is always eager to keep training and working.

“All he wants to do is play. His training … that’s play for him,” Stewart said. “I really like the fact that he has a real methodical way that he works.”

Jerry is a Belgian Malinois, which Stewart said is an energetic breed, and is great for training. Stewart said Jerry in particular is very laid back and is receptive to others who want to pet him and take pictures.

In addition to working together, the two also live together. Jerry comes home with Stewart at the end of each day and is always in the office or in the field with him.

“We’re together 24 hours a day” Stewart said. “I’m his handler, caretaker, I do everything for him. He goes where I go.”