Several Pettis County K9 units took part in training exercises this past week with Irondog K9 International.

On Thursday, training took place at the old abandoned Sedalia Democrat Building, 7th and Massachusetts.

Dogs and their handlers searched areas where drugs or explosives were hidden. All of them did an amazing job of quickly and eagerly detecting the items.

Pettis County Sheriff Brad Anders told KSIS that Thursday was the first opportunity he had to meet Mitzi and Charlie Nash, owners of Irondog K9 International, based out of McDonough, Georgia.

“They have been integral in supplies, canines, everything that we need to get this program up and running. In fact, we have two school resource officers (SRO), both with explosives and weapons dogs that are in schools right now out in the county, and that's the first time that's happened. That would not have happened were it not for Irondog K9 International,” Anders said.

When asked if this was common practice across the nation, Anders responded that he doesn't think so. “This is relatively new, it's something that we wanted to try here and see how that works. It just makes sense. Anything that you can do to increase the safety in schools for students and staff and everybody who's in that building, is never going to be a bad idea,” Sheriff Anders said.

Anders explained that “the county has three narcotics dogs that are imprinted with virtually any controlled substance that's going to be on the road, and then we have explosives dogs that are imprinted with, basically, anything that goes boom.”
The sheriff added that “there are a variety of different scents that these dogs are imprinted with, and they have done phenomenal. Just this week they certified through the the National Police Canine Association, both on explosives and narcotics.”

Anders admitted that he is biased, as a previous dog handler, that it is always amazing to watch these dogs work and use their highly-advanced olfactory senses to seek out illicit drugs and dangerous explosives.

“It was one of the best times of my career, and to be able to bring something like this into Pettis County, which increases with safety and helps with our drug seizures here, and with the explosives side, it helps deter any kind of issues that may ever occur here, but we will be prepared,” Anders said.

A dog's drive is one factor that goes in selecting which canines will eventually become working K9 units.

“All of these dogs have come from overseas,” Anders told KSIS, adding that he has no part in the selection process. The company that supplies the dogs look at a variety of different elements to see how they respond to certain things, and drive is such a huge thing. “Which is what you see when they're so excited to go out and work. And they're ready to go to work every day, every minute of the day.”

Matching up the right dog with the right handler is vital, Anders stressed, adding that potential handlers are interviewed. “We pick what we think will be the best match for both the dog and the position,” he said. “It's really neat how that works out, how all of them have an almost mirrored drive & personality, from the canine side to the human side.”

AM 1050 KSIS logo
Get our free mobile app

What's the future hold for Pettis County's K9 program?

“I'm not done,” Anders responded. “We only have two schools in the county that are covered with school resources officers. My goal from day one has been to put an SRO in each school. And I want a dog for everyone that goes.”

Anders noted that he plans to add two more “dope dogs” to the patrol. “That way, every shift will have a dog available to them … (Right now) we always have one available. And of course, we have one in the jail, too. But that one is kind of an anomaly. That one has marijuana imprinted. You cannot have cannibas-related items imprinted on your dog and be on the road, now that (marijuana) is legal. But we got that dog from Texas with cannabis and I thought this would be a great place to increase security in the jail to make sure nothing comes in, and it's not just cannabis that you can't have in the jail. You can't have crack, you can't have heroin, meth … that dog's imprinted with all of that,” Sheriff Anders said.

He added that currently, Pettis County's bomb dogs are single-purpose dogs. They don't have a patrol side to them, so they're not going to go out and just bite.

However the drugs dogs are imprinted with patrol, “so they will do handler protection, they will do tracking, they'll do all of it,” Anders stated.

Mitzi Nash, with Irondog K9, said that her company has provided support for the Pettis County Sheriff's K9 units.

“We have also provided first aid kits and trauma training, so the handlers can take care of their dogs in case of an emergency until they can get them to veterinary care” Nash explained, adding that more trauma training will happen for all Pettis County K9 officers here in July.

Of the six male K9s that Pettis now has, Irondog has provided three of them. “Three of which we personally donated, and one of which we helped to facilitate the donation of the dog to the department,” Nash told KSIS.

Thursday was one of several training days last week, Nash noted. “They just completed their certification, so they are all on board now.”

There is plenty of bookwork involved, also, Nash said. “These guys have to do the training behind the scenes, not just with the dogs, but also to understand the intricacies of the details of their work, and then also be able to document it … and now with certification, they are now here to serve the community.”

Irondog K9 has provided services to law enforcement operations in California, Georgia, Florida, New York, Arizona and Texas, to name a few.

“We're everywhere we can be to try to support what they need,” Nash noted, adding that Irondog K9 began in 2015, “And since then it has just grown. Obviously, there is a huge need. The average person doesn't realize that there isn't always the funding available for specialty departments like K9 units, so we are there to try to help fill the gap, so they have the equipment and training they need. And if the dog gets injured in the line of duty, we want to make sure they get the best vet care they can, so they can go back home at the end of the day.”

The working life of the average K9 is between two and 10 years, she said, adding that patrol dogs generally don't work at an older age, but explosives dogs can continue to work for quite some time.

Nash added that “you guys have a great sheriff here, and he's very pro-K9, and he's now implementing the K9s in the school system to try to help protect the kids,” Nash said, adding that the dogs can detect narcotics, explosives and firearms.

Dogs that qualify for the program may include German Shepherds, German Short-Hair Pointers, German Wire Hair Pointers, Labrador Retrievers and Belgian Malinois.

For more information, visit

Pettis County K9 Training

Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby

CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them

More From AM 1050 KSIS