EBPD’s K-9s are something to bark about

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

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When police officers are in the line of duty, they need a loyal partner by their side. And who is more loyal than a man’s best friend? Meet East Brewton Police Department’s most cuddly officers Boo and Bruiser. Just like their partners Brandon Mealer and Sgt. Paige Howell, they have both an on-duty and an off-duty personality.

On-duty, these pups are Mealer’s and Howell’s most trusted sidekicks.

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“That’s my partner,” Mealer said in reference to his K-9 Partner Boo. “She’s with me 24/7. At the end of the day, she has my back. If I’m out here by myself, she can actually be the difference one day.”

Mealer started off as a patrol officer for the EBPD. Until he took an interest in the K-9 unit.

“I took an interest to it immediately because I like to work with narcotics,” Mealer said. “My chief told me that if I get a K-9, I could do it. He has been nothing but supportive. Without his support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Mealer spent months going with Howell to train K-9s at Dixie K9 LLC in Atmore. Mealer eventually got around to training with just Boo.

“When we’re going through the handler training together, it’s like building any relationship,” Mealer said. “You are building up a rapport, and you’re doing everything with the dog. So at that point, you’re learning to trust the dog, and the dog is learning to trust you.”

Howell’s K-9 Partner Bruiser joined EBPD first. Bruiser has been in service for three years and Boo has been in service for two years. Mealer said that since there is a shortage of K-9s in Escambia County, Boo and Bruiser have done searches all over the county and even as far as Greenville, which is in Butler County. The K-9s have searched the county jail, and Neal and Flomaton schools. Boo and Bruiser also compete in competitions. Boo recently won first place in the narcotics division in a competition in Atmore, which had a total of 16 dogs competing.

Mealer said that Boo performs best at narcotics detection. Bruiser is more well rounded in his skill set, but he is excellent at bite work.

Mealer explained that the K-9s know when they are on-duty and when they are off-duty.

“Boo knows when I’m in my uniform, and she knows when I’m in my regular clothes,” Mealer said. “When she sees I have my uniform on, she knows it’s time to get back to work.”

Mealer also said that the K-9s get excited whenever they are responding to a call.

“If we were to sit in my car and I hit my lights and sirens, she’ll realize we’re going on call,” Mealer said. “So, she’ll start barking and spinning because she knows it’s time to go to work.”

When the pups are off-duty, they are just like any other dog. Mealer said Boo is great with Mealer’s 4-year-old son and his girlfriend’s 1-year-old child. Mealer said Bruiser is great with older children and other dogs. Howell even lets Bruiser sleep in the same bed as him.

Mealer described Boo as a bit of a goofball when she’s off-duty.

“She loves to run, but her running is more like a hop,” Mealer said with a laugh. “She looks kinda like a rabbit. She has plenty of energy.”

Bruiser loves playing with his ball and other dogs. Howell said Bruiser loves going on car rides too.