KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly 50 K-9 teams and EMS professionals from across Tennessee and nine other surrounding states spent four days at a free Knoxville training seminar hosted by K9s United, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting K-9 law enforcement officers.

According to organizers, the goal of the event was to make sure local and regional K-9 units and first responders have “the highest level of customized training, problem solving and animal care necessary to protect and serve their communities.”

Officials said the private workshop was held from Monday, July 31 through Thursday, Aug. 3 at the University of Tennessee’s BHREM Animal Science Building, drawing members of 15 agencies from across the Volunteer State, as well as attendees from Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

“Our mission is rooted in the belief that the contributions of working K-9s is essential to create safer communities,” said Debbie Johnson, founder and president of K9s United. “Knoxville serves as the perfect area for neighboring agencies to participate in this crucial training as we continue to support and empower K-9 units across the country to ensure they have the resources, support and training they need most in the field.”

Organizers said the training featured a 70-pound simulated canine able to bark, bleed, and breathe like a real Belgian Malinois police dog. The goal of these hands-on scenarios is to increase a K-9 officer’s chance of survival on the front line by teaching K-9 handlers and medics about the dog’s anatomy, combat and environmental injuries, treatment protocols, and other life-saving techniques K-9s may need at a moment’s notice.

The rest of the seminar was set to include human detection training like tracking, trailing, area and building searches; criminal apprehension techniques and scenario-based training; odor and narcotics/explosive detection; and basic and advanced obedience training.

In addition, officials said K9s United provided K-9 handlers and EMS professionals with the necessary materials to build their own first aid kits before making sure the recipients understood when to use what.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

The following agencies reportedly attended the Knoxville workshop:

  • Boaz Police Department (Alabama)
  • Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Bledsoe County Sheriff’s Department (Tennessee)
  • Carmel Police Department (Indiana)
  • Cookeville Police Department (Tennessee)
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (Kentucky)
  • Greene County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Grove Hill Police Department (Alabama)
  • Guilford County Sheriff’s Office (North Carolina)
  • Harrison County Sheriff’s Office (Mississippi)
  • Indiana State Police
  • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office (West Virginia)
  • Knox County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Loudon County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Maryville Police Department (Tennessee)
  • Muncie Police Department (Indiana)
  • Morristown Police Department (Tennessee)
  • Mt. Juliet Police Department (Tennessee)
  • Pigeon Forge Police Department (Tennessee)
  • Putnam County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Smithfield Township (Pennsylvania)
  • Sumner County Sheriff’s Office (Tennessee)
  • Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (South Carolina)
  • Trigg County Sheriff’s Office (Kentucky)
  • Union County Sheriff’s Department (Tennessee)
  • University of Tennessee
  • Wake County Sheriff’s Office (North Carolina)
  • Walhalla Police Department (South Carolina)
  • Webster County Sheriff’s Office (Iowa)
  • Whitley County Sheriff’s Office (Kentucky)