Corporal John Platt’s interest in becoming a K-9 officer stemmed from a desire to have a family dog.
“You also get this highly trained dog and you get to take her to work,” said Platt, who has been with the UT Police Department four years. He is a member of UTPD’s Community Relations Unit, which conducts the department’s education and outreach efforts.
Platt and Athena became a team in January 2018, when she joined UTPD. Athena is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois who is certified in explosives detection. Born in Poland, she was brought to America last year by Iron Heart High Performance Working Dogs in Shawnee, Kansas.
A playful and friendly pup, Athena loves people, especially children. She lives with Platt and his family, which includes a 20-month-old toddler.
Having Athena enhances the police department’s mission of service, whether it’s sniffing venues for suspicious packages before an event or being a department ambassador when meeting an adoring public, Platt said.
When she’s not sweeping venues for explosives or accompanying Platt as he leads various orientation sessions on campus, Athena can be found hanging out around the office. During lunch, she and Platt sometimes play fetch at World’s Fair Park. “She is great at it, too,” he said.
Having a K-9 has been an adjustment, Platt said, particularly in the amount of training and attention Athena requires every day.
“She’s a high-energy dog. If I don’t work her hard enough, she won’t have that quality of life that she deserves. So even when I get home and I’m tired, we go out and play some,” he said.
Her name evokes the Greek goddess of wisdom. “I feel like it is fitting because her job is to detect odor and she does great at it,” Platt said.
Lola Alapo (865-974-1094, firstname.lastname@example.org)