Malmstrom mission: K-9s make a difference

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 18:41:34-04

Security Forces at Malmstrom Air Force Base make sure the nation’s missile force is protected from all threats, but they also provide other law enforcement duties.

And that mission is also supported by a special group of four legged friends that are an important part of the team. 

Senior Airman Benjamin Huntley has been a dog handler for less than a year.

"My favorite part of being a K-9 handler is working with man’s best friend," Huntley said. 

He’s still getting up to speed on the job along with his 3-year old K-9 partner Berry.

"Since I was new he kind of led the way. Then I stepped in and took over," Huntley said. 

This is the first time that handler and dog have worked together, not only as a team but after they both went through training.

"It takes a while to get your dog to trust you. Just like anyone else I am new to them and he is new to me," Huntley said. 

During training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, handlers learn everything from detection work for bombs and drugs, to patrol duties, and learning some important veterinary skills.

"If my dog is suffering from lack of water or cardiac arrest or anything like that, I will be the first person there to assist my dog before he can get to the vet,"  Huntley said.

Berry also underwent his training at Lackland before being assigned to Malmstrom.

"Every situation that we have been in as far as going on temporary duty or missions, he knows that even though it is somewhere new I am only going to look out for him the best way that I can," Huntley said.

Not only do Huntley and Berry help protect Malmstrom, but they also give support to communities across Montana.

"We basically fill a void in the law enforcement off-base. Being able to respond to things that they may not be able to or we might have a tool that they may not have in their tool box," Huntley said.

The bond between a K-9 and its handler is one of the strongest you’ll find.

"You get to do things being a K-9 handler that others do not get to experience, as far as working with the dog, understanding the bond, and I basically get to work with a dog every day. Who wouldn’t love to do that," Huntley said.

Military Working Dogs normally work until they are 10 years old.

Then, the dog will either go live with its current or former handler once their career has ended.

Berry is just at the beginning of his career.