LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) — Meet Blaze! The German Shorthaired Pointer is an extra line of defense in the Lebanon Special School District.
‘Paws on Patrol’ is an idea that started this school year after a student brought a gun to Winfree Bryant Middle School in February.
“He’s constantly working, he may not look like that he is, but he is constantly working, he is constantly stiffing and trying to find odor on people,” said Dusty Burton, a school resource officer (SRO) and Blaze’s K-9 handler.
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Blaze’s mission is sniffing for firearms and explosives throughout lockers, backpacks, and band instruments daily.
“We actually had an incident in February where a student brought a gun to school,” said Maria Stranahan.
After that, Stranahan and Christie Finch began researching how to make their children’s middle school safer. That’s when they came across ‘Paws on Patrol.’
“We were very lucky to have the school district actually listen to us parents and they said ‘OK what are you able to show?’ This is a community effort and as parents, we want to make sure we influence that. We were lucky then that the district actually listened to our concerns and we made this happen as a team,” Stranahan said.
On the second day on the job, Blaze was able to detect fireworks at Lebanon High School.
“He did really well, he smelled the backpack, alerted on it, so once the SRO searched through the backpack, they did find a firework,” Burton said.
He’s not only detecting firearms, but hopefully deterring students from bringing in weapons.
“I am glad my school is safer than it was before,” said Emmett Finch, a seventh grader at Winfree Bryant Middle School.
And on top of safety, he’s also boosting student morale.
“With a big fluffy dog that loves everybody, everybody that we’ve seen interact with him loves him,” Finch said.
The school district told News 2 that Blaze is the only K-9 that works directly in schools every day in Middle Tennessee. Blaze and his handler, Burton, rotate to a different school within the Lebanon Special School District every day.