K-9 Unit provides a ‘peace of mind’ to NIU


An NIU Police officer stands with Kazan, one of the oldest members of the NIU Police K-9 Unit.

By Amy Kreeger

A big German Shepherd is chasing a tennis ball thrown by his owner. This dog walks along side the police everyday, sniffing out law violations and danger. Watching him play fetch, one wouldn’t think he’s one of the top NIU Police dogs.

“Good boy,” NIU Police Cpl. Joe Hodder said as the dog catches the toy thrown for him.

The dog lays there, looking content, chewing on his tennis ball and doesn’t even look up at the sounds of a conversation going on next to him.

“This is Kazan,” Hodder said. Kazan is one of the oldest members of the NIU Police K-9 unit.

The dog gets up, and wags his tail while his tongue hangs out. The officer and his partner are behind the Huskie Stadium, prepared for another day of work getting ready for a football game.

“I have to go and have him sniff a food truck,” Hodder said. “It’s routine.”

A K-9 unit is a group of dogs who are used to find explosives, guns, bullets and other types of ammunition, Hodder said.

NIU’s K-9 unit is the second largest in Illinois, consisting of five dogs.

The unit covers NIU and its extended community, including DeKalb and other suburbs of Chicago.

The average findings throughout a dog’s career is one discovery, if any at all. The average of dogs in the U.S. and Canada finding anything is approximately 1 percent.

Kazan has been a K-9 dog for nine years and has had seven finds. He was born in Holland and is ten and a half years old. Hodder is his owner, and said that even though Kazan is a career dog, he still enjoys the little things, like tennis balls.

“They provide us with peace of mind,” Hodder said. “And when he is done working, he is just like a regular dog.”