Genesee County K9 UnitApollo Continues Father’s Legacy


Handler Dpty. Andrew Langdon | Apollo

A police dog, or K9, is a dog specifically trained to assist members of law enforcement. The Office of Genesee County Sheriff has a K9 Unit which includes four highly-trained members – Apollo, Creed, Majic and Max – according to Jason Gould, Major of Operations. Deputy Andrew Langdon, Apollo’s handler, along with Major Gould, talked with My City Magazine about the K9 Unit and the special role the animals play in local law enforcement.

Two of the dogs are trained in narcotics detection and two are trained to detect explosives, according to Dpty. Langdon. All four are trained in tracking, are patrol certified and trained in handler protection and suspect apprehension, he adds.

Apollo is the offspring of Rocky, a K9 that died in a training accident in 2018. “Rocky was a very special dog,” Langdon remembers. “He was one of the best working dogs we’ve ever had. We were surprised to hear about Apollo, and happy to know that Rocky’s legacy would continue. Apollo is a lot like his dad; he looks like him and has similar markings.”

Both Rocky and Apollo were trained at West Michigan K9 in West Olive. “At ten months old Apollo was so advanced, they turned him over to the Sheriff’s Office!” Langdon exclaims. Langdon and Apollo also attended a six-week training program at Mid-Michigan K9 Academy in Saginaw. “The training never stops, it’s constant. It takes about a year to become proficient and develop a strong dog/human bond.”

“It’s the best job ever! Apollo is constantly with me. Anything I do, he’s doing it, too. Apollo knows all my secrets, never disagrees with me and never talks back.”
Dpty. Andrew Langdon

Deputy Langdon had always dreamed of becoming a K9 handler and has enjoyed the experience, which he says is a 24/7 responsibility, he reports. “The dogs go home with us every night.” And, he believes it takes a special person to do the job. “It’s the best job ever!” Langdon exclaims. “Apollo is constantly with me. Anything I do, he’s doing it, too. Apollo knows all my secrets, never disagrees with me and never talks back,” he shares with a smile. The K9s accompany their handlers in the police cruisers, traveling in the back in a fully canine-equipped kennel that features a heat alarm that goes off if the dog gets too hot.

Handler Sgt. Shawn Sordyl | Creed

Major Gould says Apollo has done some amazing things in the past couple of months. “He has had six finds (narcotics) since May, including 32 grams of methamphetamine,” he states. Apollo has also performed multiple contraband searches in the County jail, which the Major says is a huge deal. “He is certainly following in his father’s footsteps.”

“The K9 Unit not only brings an incredible value to law enforcement but also to the community as a whole.”
– Mjr. Jason Gould

The K9 Unit is a very valuable resource for the Sheriff’s Office, Dpty. Langdon notes. “The dogs are able to use their incredible power of smell, something humans can’t do,” says Gould. “It really is a valuable tool.” Along with performing random searches at the jail, other agencies call for the K9 Unit to assist in searches, such as a missing person. The dogs are also used to help apprehend someone who tries to run from a traffic stop.

Having a relationship with the community is very important to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. “The K9 Unit not only brings an incredible value to law enforcement but also to the community as a whole,” Major Gould points out. “When an officer brings their K9 into a room, everyone loves it.”

Handler Lt. Ryan Ulshafer | Majic

In August, the annual “Deps & Dogs” community event was held outside the Genesee County Jail.
The free family fun included a DJ, dunk tank, bounce houses, emergency vehicles and of course, opportunities to interact with the K9s. The K9 Unit can be seen working at other local events such as the CRIM, Back to the Bricks®, Bikes on the Bricks and community parades. “Apollo walks in parades and interacts with the kids,” Dpty. Langdon says. It is important to point out, however,  that a person should never approach a K9 without its handler’s permission, he adds.

Major Gould says that funding for the K-9 Unit is included in the Sheriff Office’s budget, but fundraisers are held to raise money to help keep it operating. The community donates items such as crates and toys. “Pet Supplies Plus provides food for the dogs,” Gould reports, “and two local veterinarians give us discounts and help with any care the animals might need. We go locally when it comes to caring for our dogs.”

Handler Lt. Justin Hunt Max

According to Dpty. Langdon, it takes a certain type of dog to become a police K9. The highly-trained animals are hand-selected from all over the world. Although most of the dogs are male, it doesn’t matter what sex they are or what they look like. The top police dog breeds are German Shepherd and German Malinois. “They are tested to see if they can make the grade,” Langdon states.

The K9 Unit receives a lot of support from Sheriff Chris Swanson, Gould notes. “They are such a valuable asset to the Law Enforcement Division,” he shares. “Their unique abilities allow them to do things that humans can’t.”



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