USD 490 School Resource Officer Tyson Nielson's dream of bringing in a dog as part of the SRO program for the schools became a reality thanks to the support of a number of community members and businesses.
USD 490 School Resource Officer Tyson Nielson’s dream of bringing in a dog as part of the SRO program for the schools became a reality thanks to the support of a number of community members and businesses.
Nielson began raising money for a dog last school year and on Aug. 1 he took possession of the dog, named Camo.
Camo was purchased and trained through Cross Valley K9s in Mulvane.
Camo, a 2 1/2 year old Chocolate Lab, will initially be a drug dog, working in all of the El Dorado schools.
“He is imprinted and tracks on four odors,” Nielson said.
Those are methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
After training at the Mulvane facility, Nielson and Camo are now going through training in the school and are working toward certification from the Kansas Police Dog Association, which is a performance test for the dog and handler.
“I have to learn his body changes and behavior changes,” Nielson said.
That includes how to tell when the dog gives a final alert.
The dog will be able to search lockers, rooms, backpacks, cars, etc, but he will not be able to search people.
Right now, Camo is learning to smell anywhere someone could hide drugs in the school.
Camo will regularly visit all of the El Dorado schools, but Nielson and the dog will primarily be at El Dorado Middle School and Skelly Elementary School. They also will be available at other schools on an as-needed basis.
“He will add one more barrier to help keep the drugs of of the schools,” Nielson said.
For the therapy part, Camo will be a companion for students who might be struggling emotionally.
“It will be another tool for students who are having issues to bond with or work with,” Nielson said, giving the example of for anxiety issues.
In the future, Camo will have more training to be a therapy dog.
“Right now, the drug part is so much more demanding on the dog that is all he is focused on,” he continued.
Camo was purchased and the training paid for all through donations.
“I am very overwhelmed with the amount of support we received in a short amount of time,” Nielson said.
Those who donated were: Skelly Elementary PTO, Grandview Elementary PTO, EMS Pride, Blackburn Construction, Inc., ICI Insurance, Ramon and Betty Criss, Ted and Barbara Dankert, Stanfield Roofing, Wade Wilkinson, CDH, Gary and Debbie Willhite, State Farm Insurance - Bonnie Buckman, Jon Gull Ins., Jim and Sally Hargrove, Eddie Dean Jr. Custom Homes, Carlisle Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., Bob Bergkamp Construction, El Dorado Ace Hardware, El Dorado Charities, Whitetail Roofing, LLC, Kiwanis Club of El Dorado, Wendy and Matthew McAdoo, Bob and Janett Doile, Dr. Beth Wittenberg, Dr. Rodney Clements, DC, and Albert Hogoboom Oilfield Trucking, Inc.
“We’re very thankful of what the community and donors have done for us,” he said. “We hope for the project to continue many years.”
They are still seeking donations for food, veterinarian care and other ongoing expenses.
Julie Clements can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @BCtimesgazette