He’s got his own passport, a selection of collars and, like any other officer, was sworn in by the Wayne County sheriff.

And now, thanks to Quota International of Wooster, Medway Drug Enforcement canine agent Emil has an extra layer of protection for when he’s out on the job.

The club raised just over $1,044 to outfit Emil with his very own bullet-proof vest and the dog, his partner and his boss all came to the club’s meeting Tuesday to say thank you and offer a look at the new gear.

Emil, an English Lab who is not quite 3 years old, came to the U.S. by way of Slovakia and trained at Excel K-9 Services in Hiram, where he first came in contact with Medway agent Andrew Koch. The two trained as a team for several weeks. “It’s an incredible thing to work with a dog and see the potential with the things he can do,” said Koch, who has been with the agency about five years.

Emil’s job is threefold: He can detect five different types of drugs, can track people and also can assist with evidence recovery. “He is,” Koch said, “a key tool and an asset for our agency to infiltrate the drug network we have in the area.”

While the vest helps protect the dog, Medway Director Don Hall said there are other dangers he faces. Some drugs, including Fentanyl, can be absorbed directly through an animal’s skin, which can be problematic as the dog often will have his nose just inches away from drugs during a search. Two dogs on the job in Florida did come in contact with the Fentanyl and had to be revived with injections of Narcan, just as humans who overdose are.

Emil is Medway’s first canine officer and has been busy ever since he arrived, going out on more than 250 assignments in less than two years. Larger dogs like Emil can usually be expected to serve five to eight years before they are retired. When that time comes, Koch said, he will purchase the dog for $1, as set forth in state law.

For now, Koch said, “Emil’s whole life revolves around him wanting to work. Work time is play time for him.” And when he gets home, Koch said, Emil eats and retreats to his cage to sleep.

“Technically, he’s just a dog,” Koch said. “But in reality, he’s my partner.”

And, Hall noted, Emil didn’t cost Wayne County taxpayers anything. His $10,500 purchase price was covered with money from the agency’s drug seizure fund. “So essentially,” he said, “the drug dealers of Wayne County are paying for Emil.”

Published by the-daily-record.com.