The Thin Line
Deputy Joe Underwood & K-9 Fero
Writer / Sarah Shutt
Since he was young, Deputy Joe Underwood has always had the dream of being a K-9 handler. Three years ago, Underwood began working as a decoy for the other county K-9 officers, which served as a crucial role for training them properly. Underwood has been a part of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office for the past six years. Underwood is on the afternoon shift with “The Team” and is also a member of the SWAT and Dive team.
When the department posted the opening for a K-9 handler, Underwood saw it as a way to pursue his dream and applied for it —which he was then graciously chosen. Soon after, Underwood went to Vohne Liche Kennels, which is one of the largest police-dog training facilities in the country, located in Denver, Indiana, and choose his new K-9 partner. Amongst eight other K-9s to choose from, Underwood picked year-and-a-half-old Fero, a German Shepherd that was born in Hungary. Fero has spent the majority of his life at Vohne Liche, learning how to locate drugs and use his sense of smell to track people.
“Fero had everything I was looking for in a new partner,” Deputy Underwood says. “He was small, fast, sociable and his detection work for narcotics was phenomenal.”
After Fero was purchased, Underwood and Fero then had to attend a six-week course at Vohne Liche. The course was designed to teach Underwood how to work with Fero since he was already trained. Within the course, the classes consisted of narcotics detection, bite work, tracking and obedience. At the end of the six weeks, Underwood and Fero had to pass many tests and scenarios to become certified to work the road.
The duo has only worked six days on patrol since they became certified to work, but since then Fero has changed Underwood’s time on the force and their future experiences together.
“He has changed my time on the force by being a department tool that I’m responsible for every day,” Deputy Underwood says. “If I’m on duty or off duty I still have to take care of Fero. We train in some way every day and that won’t stop his whole career for the Sheriff’s Department.”
Underwood says that the potential for Fero is endless. It is up to Fero and Underwood to continue their training to help keep the officers and citizens of Howard County safer. The only obstacles they face is to continue their current training and applying them to real-life scenarios. Fero will then accompany Storm, who is a bomb-sniffing K-9 and will be a good tool for the Howard County Sheriff’s office to utilize.