Boy Scout builds new obstacle course for Jackson County K-9 units

WHITE CITY, Ore.– The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has received its first-ever K-9 obstacle course and it’s all thanks to the work of a high schooler.

The agency held a small ribbon-cutting event on Saturday at the search and rescue offices where they congratulated everyone involved in the achievement.

In attendance were four of the six K-9 units, Angus, Abby, Muddy, and Kashi. As they began a couple runs, a new training obstacle can be somewhat daunting. But when you’re a search and rescue dog that’s the point.

“Earthquakes, we’ve had them in fires, disaster areas, junk piles,” said Eric Ronemus, team leader for the search and rescue K-9 unit. “They need to be able to be comfortable knowing where their feet are and it’s also a safety thing.”

The agency has never had its own obstacle course, according to Ronemus. For years it’s been just an idea to build one until recently.

“We did ask a lot of people for donations,” said Dylan Randall, a boy scout who volunteered to build the obstacle course. “We did have a wonderful group of sponsors in the end here but it was a little challenging at times.”

The 16-year-old Phoenix High School student took it upon himself to help after hearing the agency was looking for someone to build an obstacle course. He says he’s working to become an Eagle Scout and this project was a key step toward that goal.

But he says it’s about more than the badge.

“I really saw this as a way that I could leave a lasting impression on the community and to help a very noble cause,” he said.

With help from friends and family and about six months of labor, the obstacle course is ready to go.

The K-9 unit says with this new course, the dogs will be able to receive better training both mentally and physically.

“One of the things that Dylan did was he designed things that can be done to make either the course harder or more comfortable so we’ve found ways to tweak that too,” said Ronemus.

The hope is with better training, dogs like Angus, Abby, Muddy, and Kashi will be better prepared to jump into action and help save lives.

Jackson County Search and Rescue says the obstacle course will also be available to the agencies other K-9 units. About 10 dogs will be able to utilize the facility.

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