K9 Raven highlights Red Ribbon Week

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Clayton County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Moser and his K9 partner, Raven, put on a presentation for MFL MarMac McGregor Center students during Red Ribbon Week. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Students at MFL MarMac’s McGregor Center recognized Red Ribbon Week last week, learning about the importance of living drug-free. A highlight of the week included a visit from Clayton County K9 Raven, who was part of a presentation by her partner, Clayton County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Moser.

Raven, 2, is an all-black German Shepherd who was born in Poland and trained in Michigan. 

“She is a dual-purpose indicator,” Moser told students, meaning Raven can locate both drugs and people. She can also apprehend criminals, biting and holding the individual down until an officer can handcuff him/her.

As the only K9 team in Clayton County, Moser said he and Raven are used frequently, responding to burglaries, accidents, chases and other incidents. They also make traffic stops. 

Moser said training is key to remaining a strong team. Raven went through five weeks of initial training, before she assumed her duties with the sheriff’s department. She learned to respond to commands given by Moser in German. Raven was also taught to stay on Moser’s left side, allowing him to use his right hand to access a weapon or handcuffs. In addition, she’s learned to go about her job without being disturbed by gunfire or other noises.

Raven also practices locating drugs hidden in buildings, vehicles and other areas. Students watched as she found some marijuana hidden in a container on the stage in the gym.

This type of training can be conducted anywhere, Moser said, because Raven is a passive indicator, in that, when she smells or finds drugs, she simply sits down. This is unlike Bear, the department’s K9 prior to Raven.

“Bear was an aggressive indicator,” explained Moser, who also worked with Bear. “He would bite, bark and scratch.”

Now, Moser said, he doesn’t have to worry about Raven causing any damage.

Moser said Raven also trains with toys, including a tug. Raven receives a yellow ball as a reward after she’s located drugs.

“Raven loves to play with toys,” he noted. “If she didn’t want anything, she wouldn’t want to take the time to search.”

Her tenacity to search was tested during her early training, Moser said.

“Even if she’s tired, she’ll search and search until she’s successful,” he said.

Moser told students he is Raven’s sole handler. This is more efficient since he has to hold special certifications and be knowledgeable about training when appearing in court.

“It would be too expensive to have more than one,” he added, “and it would be confusing for the dog to work with multiple people because you form such a strong bond.”

Moser said, through that bond, he and Raven have learned to read one another. He can tell when she’s indicating to drugs rather than simply sitting down. In turn, she can tell his emotions when searching for a person.

“Dogs are very smart and they feel your body language,” he said. “I’m a big believer in that my feelings go down the leash to the dog. The feelings are different when you’re looking for a kid versus a bad guy.”

Speaking about Red Ribbon Week, Moser told kids it’s important to make good choices, adding that he hopes people he and Raven have apprehended have gone on to make better choices in their lives.

“You have to make good choices to not use drugs or alcohol because it could ruin your plans,” he told them.

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