MWD Kay reports for detection duty

  • Published
  • By Lauren O'Connor
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Military Working Dog Kay received his certification as Malmstrom’s newest drug dog after passing his final certification.

Staff Sgt. Juan Salinas, 341st Security Forces Squadron MWD trainer, evaluated Kay and his handler in detection work and Maj. Derek Tosie, 341st SFS commander, witnessed the certification. Kay’s certification adds another asset to the force.

“The importance of getting this dog certified and working is that it gives us a more effective means of drug detection,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Farris, 341st SFS investigator. “A dog’s sense of smell and sensitivity is much stronger than a human’s, which will increase the probability of us locating drugs that may not be out in plain sight.”

Kay has been in the unit since 2018 working as a patrol dog. He moved to drug detection with his new handler, Staff Sgt. Christopher Hotine, 341st SFS MWD handler.

The dog and handler teams are certified every time they get a new partner and recertified annually. 

Kay and Hotine were selected for drug detection and underwent a 90 day training before certification.

“The initial training begins in the kennels,” said Salinas. “Both handler and dog start to learn each other’s personality and build a positive foundation through grooming, play and affection. The handler will then train the dog in obedience and eventually detection training.”

The K-9 unit has 6 MWD teams, each focusing on a specific area of detection or patrol. Patrol dogs are trained to seek, bite and hold individuals. Explosive detection dogs are trained to alert their handlers to potential explosive devices. Drug detection dogs are trained to sniff out illegal substances on base or on an individual.

Although Montana recently legalized recreational marijuana, it is not legal at the federal level and not allowed on base.

“While the recreational use of marijuana was just legalized in the state of Montana, military members are still prohibited from partaking in such activity, regardless of the state laws, as it still violates Article 112a of the [Uniformed Code of Military Justice],” said Farris. “Doing so would result in apprehension, which could lead to forfeiture of pay, extra duty, reduction of rank, and being discharged from the Air Force. In addition to that, civilian personnel need to be aware that possessing marijuana on the installation is still prohibited as well and could result in a loss of their base privileges, even if they are a dependent residing in base housing.”

Kay and his handler worked hard to become proficient in drug detection and are excited to get to work.

“I’m really proud of Kay; he did a great job on his certification,” said Hotine. “This dog really loves to work and he’s the biggest reason I come to work. We’re ready to put these new skills to use.”