Meet K9 Cas, MSU’s newest four-legged powerhouse
May 18, 2022
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A new four-legged powerhouse has joined the MSU Police and Public Safety K9 Unit, and he goes by the name of Casanova, or Cas for short.
K9 Cas officially completed training on May 13, 2022. The process lasted about 5 weeks and took place on Michigan State University’s campus.
“The resources on campus make for a great location for training a new team,” said Sgt. Adam Atkinson, who led Cas’ training. “We were able to work collaboratively with our MSU partnerships to access different types of buildings, vehicles, and open areas. The heavy volume of foot traffic on campus combined with the assistance of volunteer decoys made person borne explosive training successful.”
Sgt. Atkinson is currently a Master Trainer through the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers (NAPCH) and has been a K9 handler for 12 years. He says the first part of training is selecting a dog, which is done based on workability and personality. K9 Cas is ultimately trained for Static Explosive Detection and Person Borne Explosive Detection. He is a 19-month-old Labrador Retriever.
“K9 Cas is athletic, social, has high drive, and is not dog aggressive,” said Atkinson. “Throughout school, K9 Cas was a fast learner and was able to work for long periods of time with minimal rest.”
Officer Tony Alkema has been selected to be K9 Cas’ handler. Alkema says he’s always had an interest in dogs and the relationship between a working dog and their handler.
“I applied to join the K9 Unit only hoping I would get an intelligent partner like Cas and be able to make a difference in the community and to the department,” said Alkema.
Officer Alkema says while being a K9 handler is fun, it’s also hard work.
“Being a K9 handler is a very rewarding but strenuous process,” said Alkema. “Being a handler means I have a new partner on patrol and at home. It means carrying poop bags and tennis balls wherever I go, always thinking ahead on how I can benefit my new partners’ training and the communities’ safety and wellbeing. There is constant training involved with being a K9 handler to keep our skills sharp. I watch his back and make sure he is always healthy and fit to protect the community.”
Officer Alkema completed a 5-week K9 Detection/Handler course alongside K9 Cas. They are both certified and able to respond to any explosive K9-related call. In their first 2 weeks of service, Officer Alkema and K9 Cas have had 10 activations (8 explosives sweeps and 2 community engagement events).
Sgt. Atkinson says Officer Alkema is a great fit for K9 Cas based on his knowledge and experience working with dogs.
“He has demonstrated a strong work ethic on patrol which has carried over throughout school,” said Atkinson. “He is passionate and has a positive attitude. Also, his wife is a vet!”
For Officer Alkema, his favorite part about being a handler is being able to make a difference.
“The most rewarding part of the job is being able to be part of something so much larger than myself,” said Alkema. “Cas brings a level of safety I could never provide on my own as a police officer. He always wants to work; his happiness is infectious everywhere we go, and we have so much fun training and working every day.”
MSU Police and Public Safety’s K9 Unit has a combined 45 years of K9 experience. The K9 Unit is comprised of 6 handlers and 8 K9s who provide search, detection, and protection services.
Dana Whyte, Spokesperson, MSU Police and Public Safety
Inspector Chris Rozman, Public Information Officer, MSU Police and Public Safety