OSHP takes extra steps to keep K9s safe in extreme cold

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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (13abc Action News) - This stretch of extreme cold is of course very tough on those who have to work out in the elements, and that includes police dogs on the job with their handlers in all kinds of weather.

Just like mail carriers, neither rain, sleet or snow stops the work of The Ohio State Highway Patrol K9 Unit. Like the rest of the department, the handlers and their dogs have been on the job around-the-clock throughout this deep freeze. The troopers take extra precautions to make sure their partners are safe every day, but especially in extreme weather conditions.

Trooper Bryan Holden and K9 Karo have been partners for just over a year, "We get called out at all hours. It does not matter if it is pouring rain or freezing cold like it is right now. Our job is to be prepared, and to make sure we have the tools to successfully take care of our dogs at all times."

This winter has certainly been a lot colder than their first one Trooper Holden and Karo were together, "We"re starting to get used to it. It's 7 degrees. A couple of days ago it was minus 8 degrees, so right now it doesn't feel as bad as it did. We are certainly looking forward to warmer weather though"

While a lot of us aren't fans of the snow and cold, it's a much different story for Karo,"He's still got a lot of puppy in him. He loves the snow. He loves to roll around in it and dig in it. He loves to eat the snow. He's a big fan of the snow, just not the cold. We are all very in tune with our dogs. We pay close attention to their demeanor at all times, so we can spot problems early."

Even though Karo and some of the other patrol dogs love the snow, any kind of extreme weather hot or cold means the troopers take extra steps to help their partners,"We need to be smart about the way we operate. If we're cold, the dogs are probably cold. We have to keep that in mind at all times. We don't just have ourselves to worry about, we have to worry about the dogs too. Our program certainly would not be as successful as it is without the dogs."

When it comes to patrol work, one of the biggest concerns is keeping Karo's paws free of salt from the roads. Trooper Holden also closely watches just how much time Karo is outside, "On a traffic stop I am out of the car with him for anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple minutes. He then goes right back in his warm kennel. We are very careful about that."

Karo is much more than Trooper Holden's partner, he's also a friend and member of the family, "He's with me every minute of every day. Not only is he important to me, he's important to the Highway Patrol team and he's important to society."

Just minutes after we were with Trooper Holden and K9 Karo, the dog once again proved just how important he is to the work of The Ohio State Highway Patrol. Karo helped troopers find more than a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop Friday afternoon.