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Bigger the fight, bigger the bite: Altoona K-9 handler talks K-9 pursuit

Altoona (WQOW) – Altoona police officers said the more suspects fight, the harsher the K-9s bite.

Altoona K-9 Officer Anthony Helstern and his police dog Max are best friends, but he doesn’t look so friendly when Max is used to catch a suspect who won’t surrender.

Helstern said dogs are trained to grab hold of a suspect and not let go until a verbal command is given. He said they train their dogs to avoid the suspect’s head, neck and groin. However, any other area is fair game.

Related: K-9 bite sends suspect to the hospital

“The more fight that the dog gets from the subject, the more fight the dog is going to have with the suspect,”  Helstern said. “It’s kind of like when you play with your dog with a chew toy or something like that. The more you fight with that dog, the more the dog wants to play with it.”

Helstern said catching a suspect can be like a game for the dog, because they don’t realize it’s work. He said suspects often acquiesce when officers threaten to release the K-9, saving themselves a trip to the emergency room.

Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt started out as an intern in August 2017, moving to a full-time multi-media journalist and weekend anchor before becoming Daybreak anchor and now our 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor.

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