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Vt. K-9 teams appear on prime-time TV - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. K-9 teams appear on prime-time TV

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The FBI is scouring the woods for a serial killer known as "The Huntsman." Luckily, the search isn't real. It's a scene from the psychological TV thriller "The Following," featuring Kevin Bacon.

The two characters are only dressed like New Jersey state troopers, but they're real police officers in Vermont, invited to be extras on the show. "These dogs are like our second skin. They probably spend more time with us than our families do," said Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel.

This fall Chief Merkel and his canine, Aikido, joined Sgt. Eugene Duplissis of Vermont State Police and his partner, Argus, on the set. "We felt a little bit like rock stars because we were so popular and our dogs were so approachable and well-mannered. They did a great job and it made you feel kind of good. It made you proud," said Chief Merkel. 

There are currently 39 working police dogs in Vermont. The canines undergo a rigorous six-month training program at the police academy in Pittsford. The episode showcased that training.

"The dogs in Vermont are trained to a very high standard. We have an outstanding program and it's good that we can go down to New York City and film a show that's broadcast throughout the world, and show how good Vermont's dogs are," said Sgt. Duplissis.

Aikido and Argus are Belgian Malynois. Their handlers say the breed make solid police dogs because they're boxier than German shepherds, giving them better weight distribution. But did they know they were acting? "That's a good question. It was more of a training aspect for them. They have a lot of energy," said Sgt. Duplissis.

On the job the teams only have one chance to get it right. So how did they perform on the set? "Those are Hollywood trade secrets. We can't tell you any of that information, sorry. You'd have to talk to the Film Actors Guild," said Sgt. Duplissis.

Joking aside, the officers say each scene is shot four times, from four different angles and the hours can be grueling, but they say the attention to detail in crime shows is improving. "They take a lot of pride in trying to be authentic," said Sgt. Duplissis.

"I enjoy them. You know they're Hollywood and there's a Hollywood spin on things," said Chief Merkel.

And when the crime fighting duos aren't on TV, they have an important job to do at home. "We do narcotics and what we call patrol work -- which is tracking, evidence recovery, and building searches. We assist with high risk traffic stops or search warrants," said Sgt. Duplissis. 

It's a job that can be dangerous. Sgt. Duplissis is still recovering after being hit in the head with gunshot pellets when responding to a scene last week in Leicester. The suspect is now charged with multiple counts of attempted murder.

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