UT Police Department Officer Jeffrey Quirin helped breed and raise German shepherd puppies on his family property as a youngster.
“What interested me was training a dog and seeing not only how capable the dog can become but also how it can excel past a human officer given its innate abilities,” he said.
Transitioning into UTPD’s newest K-9 officer seemed like a natural fit. This spring, Quirin was paired with Bruno, an 18-month-old German shepherd. Bruno joined the three other UTPD K-9s as the department’s first apprehension and drug detection dog.
Bruno was born in Germany, trained in Poland, and brought to the United States by Iron Heart High Performance Working Dogs in Shawnee, Kansas.
Having Bruno on the force enhances public safety, said Quirin, who has been with UTPD for two years.
“It gives our department and our community another asset to find bad guys, and it allows us to provide a higher level of service,” said Quirin, who is a member of UTPD’s new Strategic Initiatives Unit, a team tasked with addressing unique criminal issues.
As part of his job, Bruno can sniff out drugs, capture a fleeing violent criminal, and protect Quirin in dangerous situations. He also can track missing people or suspects and assist in searches in open fields and in buildings.
“Resolving situations would be much more problematic without the assistance of these types of dogs,” Quirin said. “I enjoy that I get to work with Bruno, and it makes my job more fun. He looks forward to going to work because it’s merely play time for him.”
Quirin acknowledged the job could prove to be a difficult one.
“Bruno doesn’t get out of the car for minor things, only major situations generally,” Quirin said. “It’s hard knowing that I can send him into a situation where he may get hurt or killed.”
Bruno’s name means protection in German. “Given his personality, that was appropriate,” Quirin said.
Because of Bruno’s training, Quirin encourages the public to ask him before approaching and petting the dog. He also recommends that people not stand over or directly behind Bruno and that they approach him only from the front.
When Bruno is not working, Quirin trains with him in new environments and exercises him a lot.
As for Bruno’s weak spot? Food.
“He loves anything and everything food. But his reward at the end of a track is hot dogs,” Quirin said.
Lola Alapo (865-974-1094, firstname.lastname@example.org)