FAIRFIELD - There`s a sign outside the Fairfield Police Department that says `service animals only allowed in this building`.
"Dogs are loyal. Dogs are friends," said Gary MacNamara, Fairfield's chief of police. "It is really up to the handlers to understand the commitment they are working for."
These six dogs - five German shepherds, and one black Lab - are now part of K9 patrols across Fairfield and New Haven county.
"Those officers are out there today," said MacNamara.
This after six months of rigorous training. Seventeen-year veteran Kevin Wells will now have his second four-legged partner, Jagger.
"It is everything from frustration at first, because of obedience, then you move on to scenario," said Wells.
The partnership doesn`t end when the whistle blows.
"You`re pretty much bringing your K9 partner with you everywhere you go," said Wells. "Whether it is work, home 24/7. it`s an unbelievable bond between the two of you."
Then there`s the story of Poncho. His name has a lot of history in the K9 world - especially in the Naugatuck Valley.
"My grandfather had a dog named Poncho," said David Lenart, assistant chief of the Derby Fire Department. "The dog would follow the firemen in Derby into a fire - so everybody knew Poncho. He was always around my grandfather. The valley is a small place so everybody knew him."
"We`re kind of the dumb end of the leash," said Lenart. "The dog is doing all the work. We`re just following along."
When you run into these new four-legged officers on the streets of Fairfield, Trumbull, or anywhere in the Naugatuck Valley - know that they`ve gone through a lot of learning to earn their badge.
Their two-legged partners are grateful for that.