Seventeen police K-9 teams from across Wyoming, including the four from the Cheyenne Police Department, were sniffing around Gillette last week as part of their annual certification through the Wyoming Police Service Dog Association.

Throughout the week, training was conducted in narcotics detection, patrol, evidence location, and tracking skills.

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The K-9 teams were evaluated, on and off leash, in different scenarios and high-intensity environments similar to what they might encounter on a daily basis.

The K-9s were also tested on protecting their handlers from unexpected attacks.

Awards were presented to the top performers at the end of the certification, and CPD K-9 Pavel and his handler Officer Pat Johnston won two major awards, the top-scoring overall K-9 team, and the top-scoring narcotics K-9 team.

“Our K-9 handlers and their partners are a vital part of our department,” said Chief Mark Francisco.

“We are very proud to be recognized as having one of the best teams in the state," Francisco added. "This unit works tirelessly to maintain their skills for the safety of our community and our officers."

Even though the annual certification is complete, the CPD's K-9 Unit -- K-9 Dutch and Officer Sam Johson, K-9 Maverick and Officer Ben Vapenik, K-9 Pavel and Officer Pat Johnston, and K-9 Tyler and Officer Lisa Koeppel --  trains all year long in order to maintain their skills.

Meet the Four-Legged Heroes of the Cheyenne Police Department

They may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but make no bones about it, police dogs play a vital role in the fight against crime.

In many situations, they're the first ones to put their lives on the line to protect their human partners, proving that not all heroes wear capes, some wear fur coats.

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