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SALT LAKE CITY — If life were about "looking the part," then a Belgian Malinois would almost always win the role of police K-9.
The "strong and silent" type would routinely be typecast into roles like searching for suspects and sniffing for drugs. Sometimes, though, officers are in need of a little less fight and a little more finesse.
That’s where Ike comes into play for the Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Highway Patrol.
“The reaction I get with him is that everyone wants to come up and pet him and say, ‘Hi,’ and 'Oh, is this really a police dog?’” said UHP trooper Mike Terry, Ike’s handler. “Yeah, he’s a police dog.”
Ike is the first Springer Spaniel ever to become a K-9 for UHP.
In the coming weeks, Terry said the dog will be assigned to patrol the recovering Rio Grande neighborhood.
“We want him to be approachable and people not to be afraid of that dog when he’s in there working,” said UHP Sgt. Jimmy Banks. “It helps us because people feel a little more comfortable. I mean, we’re here to serve and help people and we want them to know that. I think sometimes with the Malinois, people get that feeling of, ‘Oh, if I go near that dog, he’s going to bite me,' or 'that’s his job.’”
Terry said Ike has as good a nose as any K-9, which will come in handy for his primary task of sniffing out illegal drugs.
“You can tell he found that odor and he’s like, ‘No, it’s right here!'” Terry explained after running Ike through drills that included piles of clothes and vehicles.
Banks said the breed has been utilized by law enforcement agencies elsewhere, including in Las Vegas and Great Britain.
The department hopes "Mike and Ike" will be a good fit for the neighborhood, Banks said.
“He’s a good dog, he’s got a good handler,” Banks said. “We’re just excited to have a new breed with us.”