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MacDill’s military working dogs, handlers train at Adventure Island

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Damion Morris, a military dog handler assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, tests the water with his military working dog, Lleonard, at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Damion Morris, a military dog handler assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, tests the water with his military working dog, Lleonard, at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018. Handlers performed bite drills designed to slow down or stop suspects attempting to escape into a body of water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Greene, a military dog trainer assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, practices water aggression training with 6th SFS military working dog, Lleonard, at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Greene, a military dog trainer assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, practices water aggression training with 6th SFS military working dog, Lleonard, at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018. This training allows military working dogs to become more confident working in water environments and prepares them to take on any mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, Lleonard, shakes off water during a water aggression training exercise at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018.

U.S. Air Force 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, Lleonard, shakes off water during aggression training at Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Oct. 29, 2018. MacDill’s military working dogs and handlers took advantage of the water aggression training to overcome the dogs' limited exposure to water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- From vigorous barking to dashing through water-based obstacles, military working dogs and handlers with the 6th Security Forces Squadron participated in water aggression training to maintain full spectrum readiness at Adventure Island amusement park in Tampa, Florida, Oct. 29.

“We have 7.2 miles of coastline around MacDill and we always have to be ready to patrol it,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew McElyea, a military dog trainer assigned to the 6th SFS. “We never stop training and it’s our job to keep our dogs engaged and excited about the job we accomplish together.”

Additionally, eight Tampa law enforcement agencies unleashed their own K9s during the joint training exercise.

“We do this training annually,” said Eddie Durkin, Tampa Police Department public information officer. “Some dogs don’t get enough exposure to water-based scenarios and this type of training gets them more confident and comfortable in the water.”

MacDill’s military working dogs, Lord, Zeno and Lleonard, participated in a wave of training scenarios involving suspect apprehension and deterrence in an unfamiliar environment.

“We are always looking for new ways to evolve our training and be ready for any contingency situation,” McElyea said.

The event simulated three water-based scenarios, from an obstacle course to waves and large depths of water. The training fully encompassed what a military working dog might experience in the field.

“Lord was outstanding in every water-based evaluation, and Zeno and Lleonard made significant progress throughout the day,” McElyea said. “This situational training is invaluable when our dogs need to be ready to respond to anything.”

Whether it’s inside of the base or at a point of entry, MacDill’s working dog handlers and their partners continuously practice detection, bite drills, obeying commands and apprehending suspects.

“We are the best at narcotic and bomb detection and deterrence,” McElyea said. “But our local law enforcement agencies are experts in patrol, so collectively these joint training exercises are mutually beneficial since we can learn so much from one another.”

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