BAY COUNTY, FL - It was training day at the Bay County Sheriff's Office in Lynn Haven Wednesday, but it wasn't just the deputies and officers putting in the hard work. The focus was on their four-legged friends.
Law enforcement officials from across North and Central Florida were taking part in the four day exercise focused on honing in the K-9s' drug-sniffing skills.
"The amount of olfactory cells is their nose is really what makes them beneficial," said Bay County Sheriff's Lieutenant Kevin Francis.
Hernando County Deputy Jason Jernigan and his German shepherd named "D-zel," have been partners for a year and a half.
"He's a dual purpose dog, so no matter what kind of call it is, if they request a K-9, he's able to do it," Jernigan told NewsChannel 7.
Wednesday, the pair found themselves tracking down narcotics in vehicles.
"The hide that you just saw, using the wind to my advantage the narcotic odor was actually blowing in his face," said Jernigan.
Law enforcement K-9s endure hundreds of hours of training like this every year, as many as their handlers.
"I train with him every time, so they're 100% equal," Jernigan said.
The time together also helps to strengthen their bond, which Jernigan said is crucial to the success of a K-9 team.
"We learn to work together. He's my friend, he's my partner, but he is also a tool to the sheriff's office. This is his job and he loves his job."
The Multi-Jurisdictional Counter Drug Task Force, or M.C.T.F.T. uses grant money to hold year-round training sessions like the one happening this week in Bay County.