Yordie, the Meridian Police Department canine officer who on June 4 had to be euthanized due to a painful degenerative spinal disease, was credited with uncovering more than $3.5 million in illegal drug money off the interstate that runs through Meridian.
He will be hard to replace but MPD officials said there are three dogs already at the training facility on Sandflat Road who will have a chance to live up to the standards Yordie set in his four years with the MPD's Interstate Criminal Enforcement (ICE) unit.
"We have some dogs who can be trained to take over the job Yordie did," said MPD Chief Lee Shelbourn. "We like to have two canine officers working the interstate and one canine officer and handler for each shift in the Patrol Division."
Rod Brown, who is the K-9 trainer for the MPD, at the newly constructed facility near the Meridian/Lauderdale County Public Safety Training Facility on Sandflat Road, said it takes about a month to get the dog, in this case a Malinois like Yordie, trained before partnering it with its human handler. Another two weeks with its human handler and the certification process begins. Once certified, the team is ready to hit the streets or interstate.
"ICE team dogs are mostly trained in illegal drug detection and the money that so often is moved up and down the interstate," said Brown. "But we can train dogs here for most any kind of task including bomb detection, human tracking, and fugitive apprehension to name a few."
Brown likes Malinois because they are focused, mentally stable and work well with humans. He said they also acclimate better to the hot and humid conditions of Mississippi much better than a German Shepherd.
"The Malinois has a lower body mass than a shepherd and therefore doesn't overheat as quickly as a bigger dog," Brown pointed out. "As for their work ethic I don't think there is another police dog breed that can match them."
For 17 years Brown has used one vendor from Holland in order to acquire his canines. Brown said these particular canines have excellent lineage and have always performed admirably for him and the departments that have put the canines to work.
Now the question isn't whether Yordie can be replaced. The question is if the replacement will be able to match or exceed Yordie's performance.
"Yordie was excellent in what he did and I'm sure we will find another canine from this group who will do a good job as well," Brown said.