The Pottawattamie County K-9 Unit works and trains closely with other local police K-9 units and is proud to serve and protect the citizens of Pottawattamie County.

Deputy Miller and Francesco are considered a “full service” K-9 unit due to the fact they are certified in several areas:

  • Obedience
  • Criminal Tracks
  • Article Searches
  • Area Searches
  • Narcotics Detection
  • Criminal Apprehension

The Police Service Dog Division is a support division within the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department began using Police Service Dogs in 1990, with the purchase of one dog from a public donation. The Dutch shepherd, Dino had a long and distinguished career. During this same period the Sheriff's Department also acquired a Bloodhound, Sara. Sara was a single purpose tracking dog. Due to the success of this “pilot” program, the Sheriff’s Department has continued the K9 program today. Currently the Sheriff’s Department has one "K9 Team" for the Police Service Dog Division.

The Sheriff's Department utilizes Dual Purpose police dogs. This means that the dogs are trained in detection work, either drug or explosives, and patrol work. Patrol work incorporates a number of tasks including handler protection, tracking, criminal apprehension, building and area searches, evidence recovery, and tactical operations.

Dual purpose dogs must possess a number of drives to be successful. Selection of quality animals that possess these drives is essential to the workability of the dog. The dogs are tested and selected before training ever starts. Qualified personnel select the dog and it is paired with a prospective handle. The dogs stay at the home of the handler. It is important to provide a good environment for the dog when it is not working. This also allows for a very quick response when called out for service, if the PSD Team is called out. The PSD Team in on call 24/7. Once the dog is placed with the handler, both report to Omaha or Grand Island, Nebraska for training.

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department trains according to West German Police standards and meets the standards set forth by the International Congress of Police Service Dogs. The Sheriff's Department is fortunate to have individuals that are recognized as Teaching Judges from the Omaha Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol. This allows certification to be done in a close proximity of Pottawattamie County. Handler and dog train for approximately six weeks to gain a Detector Dog certification and seven weeks to gain a Patrol Dog certification. The certifications are arduous and are scenario based for street realism. The training does not stop there, as the PSD team will continue to train eight hours a week for the rest of their working life. PSD teams must recertify on an annual basis. This enables the PSD team to maintain basic training as well as advance their training and abilities to meet the demands of working the street.

Some Examples of what a PSD Team can provide:
Detector Work: Drug detection is an important service provided. Dogs have a keen sense of smell that allows them to detect odors that humans cannot. This becomes very important when dealing with contraband sealed inside a vehicle. A properly trained PSD team is a reliable way to determine if the odor of drugs are present in a vehicle, and can establish probable cause to search for those drugs.

Handler Protection Is the most important service a PSD can provide. A PSD will do everything in its power to protect handler without any question.

A PSD team tracks by detecting disturbances left on the ground by a person on foot. Most of the tracking done the PSD team is an attempt to capture a criminal.

Evidence Recovery:
PSD's are searching for objects that have human odor on them that may have been dropped or discarded by a criminal. The dog is trained to lie down and stare at the object in the attempt to preserve the forensic value of the item.

Criminal Apprehension:
PSD’s are trained to apprehend fleeing or violent individuals. If a subject does not fight or run, the PSD will lie down and bark at the subject until the handler can take control of the suspect.

The current PSD Team is handler Deputy Brian Miller and his partner "Francesco". Francesco is a Belgium Malinois. Francesco was born in September of 2007 in the Republic of Slovakia. In August of 2008, Francesco came to United States where he was joined with Deputy Miller. Both Deputy Miller and Francesco certified together in December of 2008. Francesco is certified in the location of narcotics; evidence; apprehension, and tracking. Since certification Deputy Miller and Francesco have found more than 2000 lbs of illegal narcotics along the roadways through Pottawattamie County.

Generous donors have purchased many of the Police Service Dogs that have worked the streets today. Quality dogs are very expensive, often costing $9,000 to $12,000 for an untrained dog. Equipment and advanced training are also expensive to keep the PSD teams on the cutting edge in their field. Donations are always appreciated.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff's PSD Teams would like to thank the following for the support of the K9 program: Bill and Connie Barrier; Rolling B Farms; George Shueman; and to the numerous private donors.

Donations are handled by the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department K9 Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization formed to support the agency. If you are interested in making a donation to the Police Service Dog Division, please contact:

Linda Hensley
1400 Big Lake Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51501
(712) 890-2200

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office would also like to recognize our past K-9 units and thank them all for their efforts and hard work over the years.

  • Deputy Sheriff Vince Guyer / Canine Milo & Canine Break
  • Deputy Sheriff Rich Forrestal / Canine Dino & Canine Keel
  • Deputy Sheriff Pat McGinn / Canine Sara


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