Canine Olympics: National Patrol Dog Trials in Gloucester Twp.

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They're the sharpest, most talented police dogs in North America. (WPVI)

They're the sharpest, most talented police dogs in North America.

More than 150 agile K9s are in Gloucester Township this week competing to be top dog in the US Police Canine Association's National Patrol Dog Trials.

"What I like to equate it to is the canine Olympics. So you have the top dogs from all over the country coming in. They're not coming here unless they're really on their game," Patrolman Chris Gerace of the Gloucester Township Police Department said.

Gerace's dog Arrow placed 11th in the country last year. They're hoping for the top 10 this time around.

The K9s compete in categories that include: obedience, agility, suspect search, and evidence recovery - which happens in a field where the dogs must find small objects like a keychain.

"What they do is they heat that object up with human odor and the dog has to search within a 30 x 30 square to locate that odor," Ocean Township Police Sgt. James Capaccio said.

"We're looking to know the dog's capable of finding the human odor and letting the handler know the presence of that odor," competition judge and retired Sgt. Bubba Howell said.

The Police Canine Association says these highly-trained dogs are an important tool for fighting crime.

"They make officers safer and the communities they serve safer by doing jobs that human beings can't do as effectively," Prl. Jason Brodt, USPCA President, said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the competition gets more intense when the dogs compete in apprehending a suspect while there's gunfire going on.

"Whenever we start doing gunfire they get really excited because they know what's going to happen and they get to go make that apprehension," Ptl. Mike Aronson of the O'Fallon, Missouri Police Department said.

The competition is free and open to the public.

Thursday at 6p.m. there will be a grand finale at Timber Creek High School in Sicklerville with demonstrations, food, a parade and fireworks.
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