A bite out of crime

Staff Sgt. Michael Jones is attackd by guard dog Macco during a training exercise Thursday at Cannon Air Force Base. The 27th Security Forces Squadron uses six dogs to help protect and keep the base safe. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

Darrell Todd Maurina

Now these are guard dogs.
While many city police dogs accompany their handlers home to be with the officer’s family after a day’s work, the six dogs who work security at Cannon Air Force Base are a different breed.
“These dogs are not tolerant to families or strangers; you don’t want to have them in your home or with another family pet,” said Cannon’s kennelmaster, Tech Sgt. Roy Ebron. “The handler is trained to keep appropriate distance between the dog and other people.”
Those who refuse to follow orders from Cannon’s Security Forces may face unpleasant consequences, but Ebron said the consequences of antagonizing the working dogs are worse.
“If someone pokes us, we will arrest them and follow (the Uniform Code of Military Justice),” Ebron said. “These dogs don’t care about UCMJ. You poke one of them, they will take your hand and try to take your arm also.”
That training comes in handy if a member of the Security Forces is attacked and cannot issue commands.
“The dog will only attack if he’s given a command, unless a person shows aggression, and in that case (the dogs) are trained to show aggression,” Ebron said. “These dogs are taught to bite, bite hard, and lock on. You can swing this dog all around, and he won’t let go.”
Ebron demonstrated the point recently by directing one of his airmen to act as if he were fleeing arrest. As the airman tried to run away, Ebron commanded Macco, a veteran military working dog, to attack. Macco latched onto the airman’s arm and held on even after the airman spun around in circles, raising the dog several feet into the air.
That airman’s arm was protected by a heavy-duty shield, but Ebron said the shield’s outer covering has been ripped and torn by dog bites.
“This dog don’t care, he will get at you,” Ebron said. “If the dog locks onto you, he will take a hole out of you.”
Four Cannon dogs are trained in bomb detection and two are trained in drug detection. All, however, will attack on command and are used in gate duty.
“Macco is often at the gate, especially at night,” Ebron said. “He’s a very good deterrent, barking and growling and all that.”
Gate patrol officers agreed.
“The main benefit is that the dogs detect things humans cannot — they can sniff out hidden or illegal devices or substances,” said Senior Airman Alan Trinkle, a patrolman and gate guard with the 27th Security Forces Squadron. “If we have a suspicious vehicle or package, I feel a lot more comfortable performing a search after one of the dogs has gone through it. They are very reliable and extremely accurate at detection.”
Besides gate duty, Ebron said the dogs are used in desert security and are sometimes called on by the Drug Enforcement Agency and civilian police forces.
Ebron said he loves being a canine handler despite — or perhaps because of — their ferociousness.
“We’ve got the best job, we get to go to work every day and play with dogs,” Ebron said.