Meet Atlas, Superior Police Department’s newest K-9

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The Superior Police Department recently welcomed a new team member: Atlas. The German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix is around one year and seven months old. 

“The shepherd, they say, is kind of the thinking side of the dog, and the Malinois is where the action is, in my opinion, a perfect mix of both. He’s very, very intelligent and mostly fearless,” said his handler, Officer Charles Mahlen. 

Cenovus Superior Refinery donated the money needed to purchase and train Atlas, who is now one of two K-9s in the Superior Police Department. 

“Last fall, we found out that there was a need for a new K-9 in the Superior Police Department, and we found out that the resources weren’t quite there for the new K-9,” said Cenovus Superior Refinery General Manager Matt Gunn. “The superior refinery has a long history of working with the police department. We have a very close partnership. We work together in training both at the refinery and in the community. And like Synovus, the police department, its officers put public safety above all else. So we’re very honored to be able to support the police department, its missions and its programs, such as the K-9 program.” 

This is Mahlen’s first time being a K-9 handler.

“I had a close coworker who, when I was brand new, I worked with him at night and he was a handler and I saw how much of a difference the dog made for officer safety on the street, for public safety, and just for overall camaraderie and kind of group,” explained Mahlen. “When I got to the level of years required to get a good chance at getting a position, I put in for it because I wanted to provide the same thing for this new generation of officers coming in and bring that same tool to our community.”

Atlas spent four months in St. Paul to become trained in narcotics detection and suspect apprehension. Mahlen said he needed to be trained just as much as atlas.

“He’s extremely intelligent and he naturally wants to do this work. But as someone that’s never had a K-9 before, trying to learn, well, teaching a dog was a little difficult. Just learning the ins and outs of how he can learn to do something in order to achieve a reward, which is how he functions,” said Mahlen. “He wants to achieve the ball or the bite sleeve or the bite suit, and we need to show him how to do that properly so that was probably the hardest part for me to learn.”