Lalka plays key role for Sheriff’s Office

K9 joined staff in 2018

By Theo Tate
Posted 9/16/21

Whenever she is not tracking down marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamines, K9 Deputy Lalka of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department loves going out and meeting with the …

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Lalka plays key role for Sheriff’s Office

K9 joined staff in 2018

Posted

Whenever she is not tracking down marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamines, K9 Deputy Lalka of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department loves going out and meeting with the community.


“She’s good with kids and she’s good with people,” said Corporal Clete Mathis, who is Lalka’s handler.


Ever since she joined the department in the summer of 2018, Lalka has attended numerous events in the area, including one on July 30 at the Montgomery City Public Library. The appearance was part of the library’s summer reading program, which focused on pets.


Mathis and Deputy Heather Hobbs talked for about an hour about the life of the eight-year-old Lalka. The Black Lab was born in Poland on June 19, 2013 and was brought to the United States two years later.


“They don’t use dogs for pets over there,” Mathis said. “Dogs are like cattle, like cows and stuff. Most of the dogs are working dogs. They’re much stronger dogs over there. They’re healthier over there. They actually last longer.”


Mathis, who has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement as a K9 handler, was hired to be Lalka’s handler and trained her to detect narcotics. It’s the first time Mathis worked with a female dog.


“I got her because she was little,” Mathis said. “We knew a lot of cars. As far as adults go, the (police) cars have gotten way smaller than when we were kids, so it’s a lot easier to stick a little Lab in there than stick a German shepherd in there. She moves around a lot better. When we search houses, she moves around.”


Lalka was two years old when she was brought to the U.S. She went on a flight that lasted 18 hours.


“When you’re two years old, do you think you would have been comfortable riding on a plane by yourself halfway across the world for 18 hours in a cage?” Hobbs said. “Lalka did that. That’s pretty impressive. She’s a brave girl.”


Lalka was hired as K9 Deputy on June 9, 2018. Mathis was selected as deputy of the sheriff’s department that same day. Two months later, Mathis and Lalka received a certificate of accreditation from the North American Police Work Dog Association in the field of narcotics detection.


“The K9 program has proven to be vitally important to our community as a way to identify and deter drugs in our county,” Montgomery County Sheriff Craig Allison said. “Her strong background in training and certification adds a tremendous value in prosecuting offenders. But even more importantly, she is just a great dog, who we all love and who has become a huge part of our Sheriff’s Office family.”


Mathis said before he became Lalka’s handler, he had to get some training.


“We train all of the time,” Mathis said. “We train as a team. We all certify at the same place and we certify as a team. If you fail, the dog fails. Then, both of you fail. But the dog is way smarter than usually a handler is.”


Besides the library, Lalka also made visits to Jonesburg Elementary, Immaculate Conception School and Wellsville-Middletown R-1 School.
Allison said Lalka enjoys coming to work.


“It starts with her excitement of seeing her handler, K9 Corporal Mathis, in his uniform,” the sheriff said. “She follows him around with a continued wagging of her tail. When she hears him call into dispatch to start their shift, she starts vocalizing her excitement. When they stop by the Sheriff’s Office, she has her routine of going around to each person and each office to greet everyone. She has the same routine each time she comes in and I would say we all are happy to see her as much as she is us.”

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