Congratulations to an award-winning team from Stockton University -- K-9 Freya and her handler Lt. Tracy Stuart -- on their first-place finishes at the United States Police Canine Association's 2022 National Detector Dog Trials.

K9 teams from around the country were tested in general odor recognition as well as searching parcels, vehicles, and rooms. The competition tests both the handler and the dog who must work together to locate the hidden explosives.

Freya, a 6-year-old golden retriever, nosed her way into first place in the parcel and vehicle searches and placed first overall in the explosives detection competition at the  Dog Trials held in Georgia last week.

“I take every opportunity to train with Freya—anywhere we can,” Stuart said. “I expose her to different settings and environments to improve her situational adaptability, proficiency and overall effectiveness.”

In a release from Stockton, Lt. Stuart credited Freya with having all the skills needed to be a champion.

“K-9s in general are an amazing tool for law enforcement. Besides their incredible scent capabilities, these dogs are loyal, protective, intelligent and skilled. They are attuned to human emotions. Freya is all of those things and so much more to me. It is truly a blessing to say she is my K-9 partner.”

This isn't Lt. Stuart's first winning dog trial experience. Last year Stuart and Freya finished in third place in the national championship trials held in Trenton.

Stuart and her original K-9 partner, Hemi, were the national champions in the 2018 and 2019 events. The chocolate lab retired in 2020.

The Stockton University Police K-9 team is part of the NJ Detect and Render Safe Task Force and provides assistance in explosives detection operations both locally and statewide.

Watch for Stuart and Freya featured on ESPN in November in a documentary on the competition, showing a handler’s day-to-day experience as they prepare for the detection dog competition.

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