BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH
OPELIKA — One Opelika canine is running with the big dogs as a semifinalist in the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards.
K9 Bane, one of seven dogs in the Opelika Police Department’s K9 unit, is up against Wisconsin’s K9 Riggs and Georgia’s Jerry Lee for the top award in the Law Enforcement and Detection Dogs category. Dogs are nominated for the award and advance in the competition based on the number of public votes they receive.
“To make it into the semifinals is awesome,” said Bane’s partner, Detective Jacob Taylor. “Our K9 unit works hard every day training and utilizing our canines. The public’s perception of canines can be skewed into thinking of them as attack dogs or only used in apprehension, however, we feel like this nomination has allowed us to share more about how important our canines are and the many ways they can be utilized.”
Bane came to OPD in 2020 from another agency, Taylor said. The agency determined it wouldn’t be able to keep Bane and reached out to Assistant Police Chief Kasey Brown, who is a certified K9 trainer, to see if OPD could take him in.
“They knew we ran a tight and professional program and wanted to know if our department would be interested in taking Bane, as they were not able to keep him at their department,” Taylor explained. “Bane was only 2 years old, and due to his training, he couldn’t just be given up for adoption.”
Once Brown and OPD’s K9 handlers began working with Bane, they saw he was well trained and could realize his potential with a handler who could help control his natural drives.
Taylor, who also works with narcotics dog Roger, “immediately” formed a strong bond with Bane when they began working together. In February 2021, Taylor and Bane became a certified team through Alabama Canine, a police dog training facility located in Tuscaloosa County.
Almost a year later, in January 2022, Taylor and Bane would put their teamwork and training to the test in an incident with a felony suspect.
According to Bane’s nomination, Taylor attempted to conduct a traffic stop involving the suspect before the suspect fled in his vehicle. The suspect then attempted to flee on foot as Taylor warned multiple times that he would release his dog if the suspect did not surrender.
Taylor released Bane as the suspect continued to flee, but once Bane reached him, the suspect placed the dog in a headlock and began striking him in the ribs. In the process, officers noticed the suspect had dropped a pistol. With Bane’s help, the detectives were able to apprehend the suspect.
The suspect admitted he would have shot at the officers if Bane had not been deployed, according to the nomination.
Taylor and Bane each received a Meritorious Service Award from the city in March 2022 for their actions.
“What people may not understand about canines is they will put their life on the line to save someone, regardless of who they are,” Taylor said. “There is no hesitation. Not everyone can say that about their partner, so the bond between a handler and their dog is unlike any other relationship.
“Bane saved several lives that day by simply doing what he is trained every day to do. If he would have hesitated or second-guessed his training, the outcome could have been very different.”
Anyone may vote for Bane to advance in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards at www.herodogawards.org/dog/2022/law-enforcement-detection/bane. Voters can submit a vote once every 24 hours until July 22 at 2 p.m. CST.