Military working dog transferred to Valdosta Police Department

The 23d Security Forces Squadron partnered with the Valdosta Police Department to host a Military Working Dog leash transfer ceremony, Feb. 28, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

MWD Ssmokey was transferred from the care of Staff Sgt. Jason Ashmore, 23d SFS MWD trainer, to Officer Jose Cruz, VPD K-9 handler, where he will continue his work as an explosive detective dog in the local community.

“Ssmokey is a very unique dog with an amazing ability to work, but he requires special attention and training that doesn’t currently fit the Air Force mission,” said Maj. Charles Tenney, 23d SFS Commander. “We wanted to see Ssmokey continue to serve his community so we sent him to the VPD, where he will be able to receive the special attention needed to fulfill his potential.”

Though this leash transfer will benefit the working relationship between the 23d SFS and the VPD, Ssmokey’s previous trainer, Ashmore, expressed his sorrow to see him go.

“Ssmokey is one of the few dogs that I’ve really had an emotional connection with, mostly because we’re very similar to each other,” said Ashmore. “We’re both big guys with big personalities and are very misunderstood. I love this dog, but I’m very happy to see him go to Officer Cruz and the VPD where he can do what he was [trained] to do at the level that’s expected of him.”

This is the first leash transfer that the 23d SFS has performed and also a new experience for Cruz.

“I’m honored to accept Ssmokey from the 23d SFS,” said Cruz. “He is my first explosive detection dog so I will be learning more from him than he will from me. I’m excited for the opportunity and the experience that he can bring to our department. Having Ssmokey will be a huge benefit to the South Georgia region.”

Cruz added, both he and the VPD are thankful to the 23d SFS for providing them the opportunity to grow and carry on Ssmokey’s training.

“Ssmokey will continue to be a fantastic working dog and we will rest a little easier at night with one more K-9 on the Valdosta streets,” said Tenney.