A behind-the-scenes look at K-9 training in the Maine Warden Service

MILFORD, Maine (WABI) - For nearly 40 years The Maine Warden Service K-9 program has been assisting wardens with search and rescue missions and conservation law enforcement.

To keep the K9s in shape and ready for emergency situations, they participate in hours of training.

“Anything with a dog with a lot of drive and lot of confidence, you can teach them just about anything. Everything is a game,” said Corporal Lucas Bellanceau of the Maine Warden Service.

Not everyone has the opportunity to bring their dogs to work.

For Corporal Lucas Bellanceau of the Maine Warden Service, his dog is his work.

“It’s a totally different lifestyle - having a dog at home, all the way up through to having a working dog in your truck every day,” said Bellanceau.

He and his 4-year-old K9, Breezy, are on call 24 hours a day.

The standard is high for dogs in the K9 program.

Bellanceau says probably 10% of the dog population would make the cut.

Luckily, Breezy has proven herself time and time again.

“She’s been very successful, not only fish and game cases, but in evidence recovery cases and other criminal cases, and other agencies,” said Bellanceau. “Helping other police departments, sheriff’s offices, but, search and rescue- finding lost children, lost people, people who have been missing for over a year, cases like that where we can finally give the family closure or find their loved ones and bring them back home.”

Hours of training goes into making sure these dogs and their handlers are meeting the standard.

Bellanceau says they participate in at least a couple training's a month as required by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

“To hold the highest standard of training and to have a well performing dog, you need to first train yourself to train your dog,” Bellanceau explained.

At this particular training, K9 Breezy participated in a human remains search.

“A lot of times when people go missing in the woods or even in the state of Maine, it’s not an immediate resolution,” said Bellanceau. “They’re not always alive when they find them so, having a strong foundation in human remains detection for our dogs is very important.”
K-9s like Breezy also helps wardens maximize efficiency.

“A lot of these searches, we can send one handler and a dog into a piece of woods, and they could clear 40 acres in less than an hour, where it would take 30 people most of the day to do,” said Bellanceau. “We use the dog’s nose to our advantage and we maximize efficiency as far as covering ground and getting people found.”

Maine Warden Service K-9s are trained in five different areas such as tracking and evidence.

To learn more about their K-9 program visit: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/warden-service/specialty-teams.html#k9.