Like most dogs, Mo likes to run around in the backyard or play with his toys. But Mo is different from most canines.
The 2-year-old Czech Shepherd is the youngest of Richmond County’s three bomb dogs by at least three years.
Even at a young age, the pup is already making his way across the state to lend a nose. Mo has helped with recent searches at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the stadium at Georgia Tech.
When he is home in Augusta, he is doing random searches at the airport and assisting with bomb threats and evidence recovery.
“In this post-9/11 era, it makes a lot of people feel better seeing a dog going through the airport,” said his handler, Deputy Donald McVean.
Recently, Mo helped lead investigators to a gun hidden in the bushes after an armed robbery at a Peach Orchard Road bank.
When they arrive at a scene, Mo works to sniff out that special odor. If Mo sits, he has found it.
The bomb dogs fall under Homeland Security and assist other agencies in a 17-county area. They have been a part of the county’s K-9 division for about 15 years.
Although the dogs are trained with real explosives, McVean said, the dogs are essentially “green” when they report for duty. It’s the job of handlers – who have the first option on the dogs after they are retired – to make sure the dog continues to train and is ready.
The bomb dogs typically work for about eight years before reaching retirement age.
McVean keeps his partner in line with commands in Dutch, but it doesn’t take much to motivate Mo.
A Kong, a red rubber toy with hidden treats inside, is the prize when Mo wins the game.
“We work all day for a check, but this is all he wants,” McVean said of the toy.
During the day, Mo stays serious and focused, but as McVean pulls into his driveway at the end of the work day, Mo knows its shutdown time.
“He’s still got a lot of puppy in him,” he said.
McVean, who has handled three dogs for the K-9 Division, said he enjoys being able to see Mo provide a service and still get time to be like most dogs.
“I have 7-year-old twins, and when they get home they run with him nonstop,” he said. “He just likes to hang out in the backyard and play with his toys.”