The Brazil City Police Department's K9 Unit is back on duty.
Patrolman Robert Van Buren recently took over the K9 Handler position when the former handler stepped down from the position.
Van Buren told The Brazil Times it's an opportunity he couldn't pass up. His wife and 9-month-old daughter have taken a shine to the new addition to their family.
"I've always wanted to do something like this," Van Buren said, adding it's been a lot of fun preparing for the new assignment. "Anya is definitely part of my family."
Brazil Police Chief Larry Pierce confirmed Anya recently passed a medical check-up with flying colors and was eager to get back to training with Van Buren for fieldwork at the academy.
"It is great to be able to have the K9 program return," Pierce said. "I believe Anya and Robert will make a good team and be an asset to the department and the citizens of Brazil."
Pierce said that although Anya has had some recent health issues that kept her from active duty, Jack Shannon, of Shannon K9, reports she did great with her refresher and new handler training.
"Anya still has a few good years left for being on the department," Pierce said.
The team has also been training regularly with the two K9 Units at the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
While demanding, Van Buren said one part of the training wasn't so hard.
"I learned some basic German while in high school," Van Buren said. "That made it a little easier to learn the commands."
Van Buren said he and Anya are scheduled for their first presentation at the Brazil Public Library in June, and he's looking forward to visiting schools in the fall.
The new team has been on patrol for three weeks. During that time, Van Buren said the hardest part of having a "four-legged friend" as a partner in a patrol car is keeping it clean.
"The best part of having Anya as a partner, is the knowledge that I'm never alone," Van Buren said before the pair left for patrol.
How to help
To make donations of support for the Brazil City Police Department's canine unit program, contact the BCPD at 446-2211 for more information.