The Ohio State Police Department has a new member, but this time, the team addition has four legs and a tail.
Canine Ena, a 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd, started working with OSU’s police force on Sept. 11. She has taken the spot of Canine Daron, a 10 1/2-year-old canine that recently retired.
“We’re really new in terms of being partners together,” said Officer Bryan Thompson, the University Police K-9 Unit team leader and Ena’s handler. “I really love her demeanor. She’s sweet, but when it’s time to go to business, she’s ready to go.”
Ena has been working with Thompson since mid-July. The dual-purpose bomb-sniffing and patrol dog is one of three canines, along with canines Rita and Andor, that make up OSU’s K-9 Unit.
According to Thompson, Ena’s primary focus is to look for explosive devices. However, Ena also uses her patrol-dog methods to ensure general safety, such as performing building searches, area searches for suspects and protecting her handler.
Ena came to OSU’s K-9 Unit through Storm Dog Tactical, a training school for storm-dog canines, which selects and trains the best dogs.
“Our trainer is from Ohio State,” Thompson said. “He’s a Buckeye. This is his way of giving back to the school that got him his degree, which I think is really cool.”
Mike Pennington, the president of Storm Dog Tactical, graduated from OSU in 1994 with a degree in criminology.
After working for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and retiring because of an injury, Pennington said he founded Storm Dog Tactical as a way to continue his passion.
“My heart was in dogs and law enforcement, so this was my avenue to keep me where my heart is at,” Pennington said.
Storm Dog Tactical was founded in 2002, the same year as OSU’s K-9 Unit. The two teams have been working together ever since to keep the campus safe.
Unlike some K-9 training schools, Pennington said Storm Dog Tactical doesn’t stick to one system. Instead, it evaluates each dog on an individual basis to figure out what will motivate them to learn.
“We look at what each canine is communicating to us, and then we’ll pick the right method for training of that dog and then run it,” Pennington said.