By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” But sometimes making best friends isn’t that easy.
Matt Jarrett, a K-9 officer at Anderson Police Department, has been learning that the hard way over the past six months.
Jarrett lost his police dog Magnum in August when the Belgian Malinois was shot by Joseph E.
Turner and later euthanized. The shooting occurred while officers were pursuing Turner after he robbed a local bank.
Donations poured into the Anderson K-9 program from all over the state. The community responded with sympathy and support. Turner was convicted and is now serving a prison sentence.
But the healing took a little longer for Jarrett.
Magnum wasn’t just a partner to Jarrett. He was part of the family for more than a year. The relationship of a paired officer and police dog is at the discretion of the handler. The officer can keep the relationship strictly business and keep the dog at the station during off-hours, or he can take the dog home as a pet.
Either way, Jarrett said police dogs are much more than a tool for law enforcement.
“Traditionally, you don’t want them to get too close to your family,” Jarrett said. “But he got to be part of the family. There was no real break. He was there with me at work and he was there with me when I came home.”
Like humans, each dog has a different personality. Some like being around people and are social, others are intense and work-oriented and others love to have fun.
“It doesn’t make them any less of a police dog,” Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said. “You try to find a good blend to go with the handler.”
Jarrett said he bonded very well with Magnum, so it was even harder after his death.
“He always had free rein of the house. He’d sleep with the kids. It sounds like a story tale or something from a movie, but that’s how he was,” Jarrett said. “It’s still sometimes hard on the kids.”
Even harder was trying to match up with a new dog.
Jarrett was paired with a dog named Diesel shortly after Magnum’s death. A tight bond is needed because the dogs and handlers work together so closely. But it wasn’t there with Diesel.
Jarrett said Diesel was a great dog but they didn’t gel. He also said he might have been rushed into the relationship too early because he wasn’t ready for another dog so quickly after Magnum’s death
“He didn’t do anything wrong, but you need to be on the same wavelength,” Jarrett said. “He was very high-strung and high-energy, and I’m more laid-back.”
Jarrett now works with Hoss, another Belgian Malinois. He said it’s going well, and he’s hopeful the bonding process will be successful this time. However, he said he’s hesitant to let Hoss get too close to his family too soon after what happened to Magnum.
“We’re training now. We’re about four weeks out from getting on the road together,” Jarrett said. “I want to keep this dog a little more of a work dog. And that’s the same focus I’m trying to give him.”