SEBRING - Beemer will attend school at the University of Central Florida, but he won't be studying engineering, chemistry or American history. The 18-month-old German shepherd will receive training to become Sebring Police Department's third police dog. His handler, police officer John Garrison, said it didn't take long for him to see Beemer's potential as a good police dog. Garrison said he's impressed with Beemer's drive, his ability to learn quickly and his willingness do anything asked of him.
The training at the University of Central Florida is expected to take eight weeks. Beemer will receive training to become a narcotics detection dog and to be able to accompany an officer on patrol, he said. Beemer will replace J.R., a German shepherd who served as a police dog for three years. Earlier this year, J.R. was forced to retire because of medical issues, Sebring Police Chief Thomas Dettman said. The department's first dog, a labrador, retired after about 10 years, he said. Dettman said the department was uncertain when J.R. would be replaced because tax money was not being used to buy a successor. He said the department would have had to raise some $7,000 to buy a new dog. When J.R. retired, Dettman said, Garrison also decided to take a job offer at the Highland County Sheriff's Office. But Garrison eventually wanted to return to the police department, Dettman said. After Garrison returned, he offered to lease Beemer to the police department for $1 a year. That offer allowed the department to get a new dog without having to raise a lot of money. Eventually, Dettman said, the department would like to get two dogs. "Our goal is to have one on the day shift and one on the evening shift," he said. Dettman said one striking trait that all the law enforcement dogs have in common is their loyalty to their handlers. "These dogs will do anything for their handlers," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org (863) 386-5834.