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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / K9 Gunther searches for a firearm during a demonstration during a press conference at the Tennessee Riverpark on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A new set of paws has arrived at the Chattanooga Police Department.

Gunther, also known as "Gunny," is a 2-year-old male German shorthaired pointer from Hungary who specializes in detecting 20-plus explosives' odors in motion, static and crowded environments. He is the first Chattanooga police K-9 to be trained in that way. He was trained in Anniston, Alabama, at Vapor Wake K-9, where his Chattanooga police handler, Sgt. Sean O'Brien, joined him for the final seven weeks of intensive training, according to a department news release.

"Gunther is a smart, gentle dog who loves to work and train," O'Brien said in the release. "I'm pleased to introduce him to members of the community and work alongside such a skilled and dependable partner."

As the seventh actively working canine Chattanooga police employee, Gunther will be able to provide ongoing and randomized sweeps of venues and attendees to identify potential threats entering a venue or roaming throughout an area. He will primarily support the department's gun team, explosive ordinance disposal team and neighborhood policing bureau. Gunther and O'Brien also will be able to assist other area law enforcement agencies, the release states.

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New Chattanooga police K9 officer

Since their deployment on March 8, Gunther and O'Brien have completed three Chattanooga area searches related to shooting calls with one weapon recovered, an armed robbery search, a building and area search related to a search warrant, a school sweep, two sweeps and vapor searches for public events and a sweep of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

"[The Chattanooga Police Department] has been improving and increasing its use of technology to provide improved public safety in recent years," Chief David Roddy said in the release. "It just makes sense to also utilize the most current canine technology available to further enhance public safety at events and crowded locations not just in Chattanooga, but also in the surrounding area."

Gunther's purchase and training was funded by the 2020 Homeland Security Grant Program. The application and administration of the grant was handled by the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management, according to the release.

- Compiled by Kim Sebring

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