West Hartford Police Sgt. Tom Lazure and the recently-retired K-9 Jett were guests on the lifestyle and entertainment show ‘Pickler and Ben,’ hosted by Kellie Pickler and Ben Aaron.
By Ronni Newton
K-9 Jett retired on Jan. 1, 2018, after his former handler Tom Lazure was promoted from officer to sergeant, but the award-winning German Shepherd is still helping spread a positive message.
Jett and Sgt. Lazure appeared this week on the “First Responders Day” episode of “Pickler and Ben,” a daytime lifestyle and entertainment show that debuted last fall and is hosted by country music star and former American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler and Emmy award-winning TV personality Ben Aaron. The show is taped in Nashville, TN, and broadcast weekdays at 9 a.m. on CMT as well as on other stations throughout the country.
According to the show’s website, “P&B also shares the inspiring stories of everyday people doing the extraordinary,” and the episode on which Jett and Lazure appeared honored first responder heroes from throughout the country.
Lazure said Tuesday that a representative from the show actually contacted him after seeing the article on We-Ha.com about Jett’s retirement. “They contacted me and said, ‘We have to have this dog on the show,'” said Lazure.
He said the entire experience was “awesome,” and included a flight to Nashville with first class seats that allowed Jett to sleep on the floor at his feet, as well as limousine service and an overnight in a hotel. “They treated me like a celebrity,” said Lazure.
Lazure said he filmed the show in late January, and had a chance to meet some incredible people who also appeared on the program, including Albuquerque Police Off. Ryan Holets, who had adopted a baby from a heroin addict he had met while on duty. Holets, who was recently featured by CNN.com, was a special guest of Pres. Donald Trump at last month’s State of the Union address.
“Of all the police dogs out there, they found K-9 Jett,” Lazure said.
The program segment, which can be viewed below on YouTube or on the show’s website, focused on the lives that K-9 Jett has helped save.
“I talked about his first save,” said Lazure.
That particular incident took place right after Jett and Lazure became a team, back in the winter of 2011. He said that an young girl had tried to commit suicide by overdosing, and when Jett found her she was in the woods, seizing. It was freezing cold. “Had it not been for [Jett] there probably would have been a dead body in the woods,” Lazure said.
“Police dogs are expensive [about $6,000, plus ongoing food and care], but you can’t put a price tag on that,” said Lazure. “It’s not the only life he saved.”
Last summer, K-9 Jett located a cognitively-impaired man who had gone missing from a long-term care facility in West Hartford. Staff at the facility did not think the man could have made it into the nearby woods due to his physical disabilities, but just 7 minutes after being deployed Jett found the man, who had indeed made it to the dense woods and had fallen, sustaining minor injuries.
“We found him in the woods with his walker,” Lazure said. “He put his hand up and said, ‘Help me.'” He said that he had been taught to “always trust your dog,” even though something might not seem possible.
In addition to saving people, Jett, who along with Lazure has received multiple awards and accolades, also found many dangerous people, and prevented harm by recovering knives and guns. Jett, now 7, was born in the Czech Republic and was trained through the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association in patrol work, narcotics, and evidence recovery.
Jett didn’t conduct any searches on the show, but Lazure demonstrated how he responds to commands – which are given in German.
Jett has now been retired for just over a month and has become the family’s pet. “It’s driving him crazy,” said Lazure, who no longer wears a uniform to work or keeps his cruiser parked in the garage. He said that Jett often goes into the garage and looks confused because the car isn’t there.
Lazure said that Jett, on his own, has conducted narcotics searches in his house.
Lazure works the overnight shift, and when he goes to work Jett no longer sleeps on the floor next to his wife, but instead remains in front of the door. He had to move Jett’s bed there.
“Ultimately he’s a work dog,” said Lazure. He and his wife have been spoiling Jett with treats and plenty of activity, but Jett misses his job.
“I still train with him – off duty of course,” Lazure said.
Pickler and Ben (#PicklerAndBen) can also be viewed at www.picklerandben.com/
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