Boy Scout combines passion for dogs, law enforcement to create K-9 training facility in Hurricane

Washington County Sheriff's Office K-9 Vinny performs mock training exercises at a new K-9 training facility in Hurricane, Utah, March 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

HURRICANE — Four-legged crime fighters throughout Washington County and beyond have a new training facility thanks to a creative teen’s desire to make a difference and the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Scout program.

Carter Bentley stands next to a plaque commemorating his Eagle Scout project, an outdoor K-9 training facility in Hurricane, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Bentley family, St. George News

The outdoor K-9 training facility provides a fenced-in area that covers roughly 15,000 square feet located within the extensive complex surrounding Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, behind the newly designed work-release inmate housing facility.

The training facility was created and designed by 17-year-old Carter Bentley as an Eagle Scout project. He said his choice of project sprang from a desire to create something that the community needed but didn’t already have.

Bentley blended that desire with his goal of becoming a police officer and his love of dogs, making it an easy decision to create a dedicated K-9 training facility.

But he didn’t do it alone.

The project was made possible thanks to donations and the efforts of K-9 deputies, Boy Scout Troop 1771, inmate work crews and friends and family who assisted in clearing and leveling the land; creating, building and assembling various training devices and equipment; and setting everything up.

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said the facility provides a valuable resource not only for local law enforcement but agencies outside of the immediate area as well.

In fact, deputies with the Iron County Sheriff’s K-9 unit trained at the facility last weekend.

Volunteers, including Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and K-9 handlers, set up a barrel obstacle for an outdoor training facility in Hurricane, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Bentley family, St. George News

Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser said that even though they have a semi-permanent training area set up in Iron County, “we don’t have anything like what is set up down there.”

Schlosser said it’s great to have the equipment and course in one location that is secured and dedicated specifically for K-9 training.

In addition to creating an area where agencies can come together for training, Pulsipher said one of the ideas behind the facility was to provide the opportunity for the exchange of ideas, experience and knowledge, serving as an invaluable tool in law enforcement.

“We are better together than any of us on our own,” Pulsipher said.

The dedicated training facility houses equipment, devices and obstacles used to train dogs in whichever discipline they’ll be used for, including narcotics detection, apprehension, cadaver and rescue/tracking.

K-9 Vinny was on hand Thursday with his handler, Washington County Sheriff’s deputy Dan Montgomery, who said the dog is “famous” as he led the animal through several mock training exercises.

The training area is also equipped with a scent detection wall, the largest of the training devices, designed and constructed with a number of holes connected to tubes for the dog to sniff into. When the animal detects the correct substance or object in the correct hole, they are rewarded by a tennis ball that rolls down the tube.

Washington County Sheriff’s deputy Daniel Montgomery and his K-9 partner, Vinny, in mock exercises at the scent wall in a new K-9 training facility, Hurricane, Utah, March 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

This exercise is designed to sharpen the dog’s narcotic-recognition skills and reinforces the animal’s natural abilities in odor detection. It also targets the dog’s search and locate behavior, using the reward system to improve accuracy and performance.

Prior to having a dedicated facility, K-9 training typically took place at various locations, including parks, fields or other areas —  wherever officers could find an open area to set up any type of training course. There are safety concerns when a county or unit uses an area or facility they cannot completely control, which made the permanent outdoor K-9 training facility an important project.

Future projects planned for the facility include installing an outdoor metal shed with windows that will serve as a storage area and provide a house-like structure for entry, fugitive location and search exercises.

Lawn turf will be added to the middle of the training area once the old turf is pulled and replaced in another area of the complex, which will provide grass for the dogs to train on. Plans are also underway to run electrical power to the facility, allowing for night training exercises.

The land and fencing were provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, while the materials needed to design and create the equipment came from friends, family and the St. George-based RAM Company, a custom-design manufacturer with a facility in the Mill Creek Industrial Park.

Bentley’s ultimate vision for the project was to create something that would last over time and serve the community well, one K-9 at a time.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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