Wyoming K9 teams place 1st, 3rd in regional U.S. Police Canine Association event

(Wyoming Department of Corrections)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Corrections said on Thursday, Aug. 3 that their two K9 teams performed strongly at a United States Police Canine Association regional certifying event in Nunn, Colorado.

Both teams finished in the top three in a “K9 Narcotic Detection” certifying course:

  • First place: Sgt. Jory Shoopman/K9 Zeke
  • 3rd place: Sgt. Randy Speiser/K9 Copper

“Each year the WDOC’s K9 Unit is required to go through a rigorous training and certification process to demonstrate a mastered skill level in the area K9 Narcotic Detection,” the department says. “The utilization of K9s represents a highly cost effective and reliable asset in detecting the presence of illegal narcotics and preventing such drugs from entering WDOC facilities.”

The WDOC said that Shoopman and her K9 have finished in first place for three of the last five years.

“Shoopman previously placed first-place in 2019 and 2016 with K9 Hunter, who retired from active duty earlier this year leaving some big paws to fill,” the release says. “In May of this year the WDOC obtained Zeke, a German Shepard, through an organization called MidWest K9 which specializes in providing basic narcotic detection services to rescue dogs identified as candidates for the program.”

“Zeke is the fifth rescue dog that the WDOC has obtained through MidWest K9. Soopman and Zeke were paired as a team and stepped up to the challenge of preparing for certification. Less than three months later, following hundreds of hours of training and bonding, they went through the certification and achieved a near perfect score of 199.17 points out of a possible 200. For their achievement, Shoopman and Zeke received the 2020 Kyle Hall Memorial Award for Outstanding Narcotic Detection Score.”

Shoopman and Speiser are assigned to the WDOC’s Investigative Services Unit.

“In addition to detecting drugs inside Wyoming’s prisons, the WDOC K9 Unit provides support to local law-enforcement, probation and parole agents and other community organizations when requested,” the WDOC says.

The dogs are trained to detect the following type of drugs, according to the WDOC:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin
  • Mushrooms

“Both dogs are trained for the single purpose passive detection, meaning they are not trained to track or attack,” the WDOC adds.

Shoopman added of the training: “It’s definitely a team effort. As handlers, we have to develop a lot of skills so our dogs will do what we want them to do. We have to learn how to read the dogs, and the dogs have to learn how to read us. It’s important to train as much as possible, so we can be ready to conduct effective, lawful searches at any given time.”