Canine teams take top USPCA honors

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Apr. 2, 2007 - Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County canine officers came home from the week-long United States Police Canine Association Region 20 Police Canine Trials with more than a dozen awards and trophies, marking the second time these canine-officer teams have competed at the annual meet.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Buddy Williams and Atos, and Sgt. Jason Ricketson and Barry, and Hopkins County Sheriff’s Cpl. Eddie Moon and Jack display the awards they earned at the USPCA trials held last week in Roanoake.

Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Eddie Moon and canine Jack came home with two trophies and six awards for their performances at the Roanoke meet which featured 12 teams in the patrol contest and 21 in the narcotics contest.

Moon and Jack came home with trophies for top overall dog and first place patrol dog. In the patrol contest, the pair also brought home a gold medal for criminal apprehension; silver medals for article search, tracking and top patrol team which also consisted of canine-officer teams from three other regional agencies; and a bronze medal for their third place finish in agility. They also received their USPCA certification for patrol dogs.

Among the many areas the handler-canine teams were judged on during the patrol contest were bite work, tracking, article search, agility, bite with gun- fire, bite without gunfire, suspect search and “anything they could be required to do while on patrol.”

The sheriff’s team was the only local pair to compete and certify in the patrol division, which Sulphur Springs Police Department  Lt. Cleve “Buddy” Williams and Sgt. Jason Ricketson were asked to help judge.

The sergeant explained that because both he and Ricketson have both been steady contenders over the years, they were asked to become two of the five patrol judges when it became apparent they would be short a few judges. Both have earned numerous awards in the past –  Williams with canine Timmie and Ricketson with Sony – and now for the second year Williams with Atos and Ricketson with Barry.

�As long as we�ve got time, we try to do both. We try to show they [the canine officers] are as good as they can be,� Williams said. �The certification itself is hard to get. We spend a lot of time working with the dogs, a lot of intensive training. It pays off.�

Williams and Ricketson did compete in the narcotics competition, however, along with Moon and 18 other canine-handler teams. The narcotics contest is divided into two search categories, motor vehicle and building searches, with two items hidden in each. In the vehicle search, Ricketson and Barry earned gold as the first place team, and Moon took a silver for their second place finish. In building search, Williams and Atos earned first, Moon and Jack second, and Ricketson and Barry third place medals. Ricketson and Barry were named the first place narcotics team and Williams and Atos second.

Ricketson and Williams were not required to attain their certification in patrol at the meet because all three local officers and their canines also hold dual certifications with the North American Police Canine Association. Canine teams are only required to hold certification with one of the recognized agencies.

�Eddie competed with the top canines from all over the state. He did a good job with that. I�m pretty proud of both [Moon and Jack and Ricketson and Barry]. There�s a lot of stress involved in it, a lot of stress to the dogs too. ... We�ve always had some of the top canines in the area We always bring back something, maybe not always first or second. A lot of the competitors on that end the guys hat to see us coming,� Williams said.�

�It was very tough, fun but tough,� Moon said of the USPCA trials. �He [Jack] surprised me some. Everything I�ve done, I owe to these two guys. They taught me everything I know. They�ve done so much for me. They�ve helped me out the most,� he added pointing to Ricketson and Williams.

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