Petal Police K9 Officers fetch awards at USPCA trials


Petal Police Officer Phillip Humphrey and his K9 partner Leo and Officer Steven Smith and partner Dena brought home six awards from the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) field trials held the weekend of Feb. 23-25.

Humphrey garnered five and Smith one.

The USPCA K9 field trial events serve as both a competition and a way for K9 units to maintain the Supreme Court’s standards for certification, and features competitive events across a wide variety of specialized skill categories.

This 2018 trials were hosted by the Jones County Sheriff’s Office and involved units from all over the region. Humphrey explained that there were 21 to 29 dogs competing throughout the various category divisions.

This year, Humphrey and Leo won 2nd place in Obedience, 2nd place in Suspect Apprehension, 2nd place in Team Patrol, 2nd Place in Overall Patrol and the Howell Award (Highest Obedience and Criminal Apprehension) together.

Humphrey explained that with K9 handlers and their partners, training really never stops given the consistent hard work that goes into maintaining the necessary standards to do the job effectively.

“It takes a lot of time,” he said. “As a K9 handler, you are never really off. It’s on you to not only train and work with the dog, but to take care of it too.”

However, Humphrey said the couple of weeks leading up to the trials are slam-packed with rigorous and intense training sessions.

“The past two weeks we’ve been really buckling down and training almost every day or every other day in preparation for this. Leading up to that point, we are still constantly training just less consistently, like once or twice a week,” he said.

Given the overall high volume of participants and overall skill involved in these trial events, Humphrey admitted that he went into without any expectation of earning five awards, though he said it meant a lot to win each of them.

“Honestly, I went there just expecting for us to meet the necessary certifications,” he explained. “There were 21 other dogs there that were also competing in the areas we placed in. Not to mention the fact that there were handlers and dogs there that have been working together for many years.”

This is perhaps more impressive considering that this was Humphrey’s and Leo’s first USPCA trials together.

“Leo definitely showed up and showed out this year,” Humphrey added.