You don’t want to mess with Ginger at Georgia Gwinnett College.
She’s well known to students, a bright and affable female chocolate Labrador three year old dog, and an integral part of the Department of Public Safety at the college, the only substance sniffing K-9 staff member.
Ginger is hard working, and has chalked up an impressive list of accomplishments in the more than two years she’s been at the college. She has assisted in several dozen arrests for substances the students should not have at the college: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine. She’s trained to sniff for 12 different drugs. She also sniffs for explosives (and firearms) on campus. Her efforts have led to more than a dozen felony charges, including intent to distribute drugs on campus. Ginger’s sniffing has led to the confiscation of three vehicles, including one pick-up now in use by the GGC Police.
GGC’s Ray Rawlins, captain of police operations, says that the dog began working after the college opened dormitories on campus, when bringing in a K-9 member was deemed reasonable. “She’s a great dog, and a big help to us. We would like to add another K-9 member of our force to be on campus..”
Her handler is Sgt. Patrick Faulkner, originally from Pensacola, Fla., who came to Gwinnett when his family moved here several years ago. He was previously with the Gwinnett County Police Department before joining the GGC force. He spent five weeks at the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Training Center getting to know Ginger, and how to handle her. Sergeant Faulkner’s prime duty is as a shift sergeant, though he works with Ginger each day when on a 10 hour duty shift, and takes her home at night. The cost for Ginger and for training was $9,093.
“When we were in Alabama, Ginger and I had a rough first two weeks. But then one day, the light came on, and she submitted. We’ve had no problems since, though we are in constant maintenance re-training. Ginger and I train every Monday with members of the Georgia State Patrol.”
Ginger works for rewards, and only gets a “treat” when she sniffs something she’s been trained to know. “She sniffs students, cars, lockers, dorm rooms. When she detects something, she’ll sit or lie down, stare and wait, and that’s telling me to investigate further,” Sergeant Faulkner says. “She’s extra intelligent, and she lets me know when she detects something.”
Ginger has had international recognition. When Sergeant Faulkner and Ginger had been together only 10 months, the pair were in a training certification competition at Daytona Beach, Fla. “She came out the top dog of the entire field of 101 dogs, winning an international competition.”
Ginger seems to enjoy her duty around campus, or riding in an air-conditioned police cruiser, and when off duty, bossing around Faulkner’s other larger dog, a 100 pound Belgian Shepherd.
Faulkner also spends time showing Ginger off to the surrounding community, including kindergartens and nursing homes. Ginger (and Faulkner) are obviously great ambassadors for Georgia Gwinnett College. Sergeant Faulkner says: “It’s the best assignment I’ve ever had.”
We suspect Ginger could echo Faulkner: “Woof. Woof. Best job ever.”