DUETTE, Fla. - Getting to those who need help can take time in some parts of Manatee County. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said every second spent heading to parts of Myakka or Duette could cost K-9 partners valuable tracking time.
"We have a very unique county, large geographical county; the goal is to reduce response times," said Sgt. Steven Chenard.
But now, nine of the agency's K-9s are getting a lift from the aviation unit.
"We'd be able to land the helicopter here at the dispatch center and fly the dog out to the event and we’d have a 10-minute response time or less instead of an hour,” said Sgt. Chenard.
It's taken months preparing their K-9 partners for liftoff.
"We spent an entire day down at our hangers just getting our dogs used to getting in and out of the helicopter without the engine turned on. From there we kind of elevated," he said.
Now they have been "elevated" to the moment when they board a helicopter with their human partners. Deputy Jerod Wolf and K-9 Ron are ready for flight.
Others like K-9 Phantom take it easy, working to trust his partner Deputy Sutton to help him get comfortable with his new surroundings.
"The last thing we want to do is throw a dog in a helicopter and have it be a bad experience," said Sgt. Chenard.
While in the sky, their partners comfort them. They let them know it'll be all right and get them ready to go to work.
"Some of them it was like they were going for a Sunday car ride. Some of them were a little more amped and excited," he said.