EATON — Eaton Police Division’s (EPD) new K-9 Rossi received her certification on Tuesday, March 31. Rossi is partnered with Officer Derek Pheanis. She began her new career with EPD the same day and is ready to serve the Eaton community.
In October of 2019 Pheanis came up with the idea of adding on a second K-9 to the police force. Through this unit, they wanted to offer different services to the community and different training to the dog.
Rossi is only trained in felony degree drugs. The only odors of drugs she is being imprinted on and trained with are felony degree odors.
“Ohio passed a Senate Bill legalizing hemp and hemp has the same exact odor as marijuana. The dog cannot tell the difference. Therefore, that is an argument in court — did the dog smell marijuana or did the dog smell hemp? That is what gave me the idea to bring another dog to our department and get ahead of all of this,” Pheanis said.
Rossi is also a non-bite dog, unlike K-9 Shadow who is a bite dog. EPD Chief Steven Hurd explained, it would be nice to have a non-bite dog for public events. Another plus of Rossi being non-bite is that she can be used on non-felonies to track.
EPD received a donation through the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office to fund the new K-9. It paid for outfitting a current vehicle for the K-9 and the dog itself.
Officer Pheanis always wanted to be a K-9 handler. He grew up in a law enforcement family, with his father a Preble County Sheriff’s Deputy, and always wanted to be a police officer. His fascination with dogs grew into a long term goal of serving as a K-9 handler.
Rossi herself is a German Shepherd who just turned three years old last month. She just passed her training for narcotics with Officer Pheanis. She is officially in service with the police department.
Pheanis and Rossi did several training days a week, working on narcotic hides. They hid training aids in and around vehicles, rooms, and other objects and taught Rossi to learn the odors. When she recognizes the odors, she will notify Pheanis with a final response.
In the long run, EPD would like to add tracking into Rossi’s job description. However, to get her on the road and in service, they first focused solely on narcotics.
For Pheanis, Rossi is more than just tool for the department — she’s also his dog.
“Our partnership is strong off the start. Ross and I have a good bond, we bonded really easy. She loves to work, she has a very high toy drive and when it comes to a working K-9 that is something you look for. I’ve never seen a dog love to work as hard as her,” he said.
“I think she’ll be great for this community, great for this department, and a perfect fit for me. She is more than just a partner or a tool, she’s also a best friend. I think she’ll do great, I think she’s just what our community needs to help clean the streets up.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH