TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — When it comes to the Terre Haute Police Department and its K-9 unit, the dogs are more than just a partner in the line of duty.

“I couldn’t go to work without him. He’s my best friend,” Justin Sears said.

Sgt. and K-9 Trainer Justin Sears has worked with his K-9 “Ossy” for five years. Each K-9 is originally from Europe where their training begins at a young age. Then they are imported to Vohne Liche Kennels when they’re ready.

The K-9s are then paired with their handlers to start the training process.

“The training never stops. A good K-9 handler will train every day for the rest of his career if they want to be better than just average,” Sears said.

The Terre Haute Police Department will train K-9s as a group for at least 16 hours a month, but the K-9s will also train each day individually with their handler anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour.

Sgt. and K-9 Handler Todd Haller said they have to get to know each other to be able to complete tasks.

“Our dogs are very similar to a person’s child. You have to learn their habits and they have to learn your body behaviors and inflections,” Haller said.

Sgt. Haller’s K-9 “Kick” came to Terre Haute in 2018. Haller has grown a bond with Kick over the years and trusts him.

A few years ago, Haller and Kick we’re sent out to a vehicle pursuit. The suspect crashed and fled into a wooded area. Haller fell and broke his shoulder, but Kick kept going.

“The dog still continued the chase and apprehended the suspect in a creek and kept him from pulling a gun out of one or two pockets to keep the person from shooting me or killing my partner that was with me. And it was at that point that I realized that dog just saved my life,” said Haller.

Sgt. Sears has also created a bond with his K-9 Ossy. They recently went out on a call about a domestic battery suspect. The suspect fled from the scene and was later found by THPD and its K-9 unit.

Sears stated that just having Ossy there changed the outcome of what could of been a worse situation.

“He surrendered and we took him into custody without incident. We would have never found him without the dog,” Sears said.

Both Sgt. Haller and Sears said they couldn’t do their job without the K-9 unit.

“The dog’s gifts and talents through their senses is invaluable. You can’t put a price on it. It saves officers lives day in and day out,” said Haller.

THPD’s K-9 unit currently has six dogs, and consists of German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Sgt. Sears stated that the breed really doesn’t matter when picking out the dogs.