What is a certification?
A certification is a signature of acceptance of accountability. It is a professional standards statement or documentation which verifies that a specific criterion was originally met and is still meeting standards.
Why are law enforcement K9 certifications important?
The representation and statement of certification is paramount for all law enforcement fields and positions due the fact that liability and constitutional rights are constantly being evaluated by law enforcement personnel and decisions are made each day effecting not just individual cases and situations but also state and federal laws. A certification is the only resource for a K9 handler/trainer to assure representation of meeting standards.
Is there a difference between types of certification?
Yes. There are both organizations and associations.
What is a certification association?
If a certification body is an association, they operate as a membership group, whereby you join the association and participate in club meetings, run for offices, elect officials, etc. Typically, these associations are membership first and certification second. The priority is membership. If you check out an association and see that they offer associate memberships, meaning that you can join that organization without having to certify, you will know that membership is the priority. Thus, certifications are secondary. Associations typically have individual regions with regional presidents, officers, etc. They also typically have local members who are considered greeters and try and recruit members.
Is the American Society of Canine Trainers an association?
No. ASCT is an organization that certifies as our only relationship. You cannot join ASCT. Instead, you meet standards and are certified on a four part check and balance system which offers what certifications are supposed to offer: accountability protection and support.
Does ASCT have regions and regional officers?
No. All certified teams have direct access to the certification board itself.
What are station certifications and police K9 trials?
Associations typically offer certifications during their group certification days. These are typically located in a general location per region. For some associations, there are multiple parts of the certifications whereby a master trainer will occupy each station and each K9 team passes through the station and attempts the challenge. Thus, each master trainer checks off that he or she witnessed a passing or failing attempt. Usually, these station certifications are attempted by 50 or more K9 teams.
Police K9 trials are held by associations whereby the group day consists of competition between K9 teams, striving to win awards as placement. There are characteristically local, regional, and national competitions. The certifications are achieved if the K9 team meets a minimum standard. Those who win are awarded placement awards, trophies, etc. The problem however arises in two fold reasons: Often, teams have to practice for the competition for a couple of months prior to the trial and that sometimes results in the K9 not being trained to real life scenarios. Also, many of the handlers and master trainers are competitive to a point of prejudice towards their own teams or friends and this disrupts the overall K9 purpose which is to train and perform on the street.
Does the American Society of Canine Trainers hold station certifications or police trials?
No. ASCT certifies by an individual evaluator testing an individual handler and K9, putting them through the specified certification tests one at a time and with fresh locations for each attempt. There are no competitions and the accountability of observation and reporting is paramount. Often, the certification is video recorded for further proof of meeting standards.
Do associations offer proper representation for agency or court?
Associations issue certification documentation that shows the K9 team as certified. However, there have been persons who have stated that it can sometimes be difficult for handlers to specifically find or obtain assistance from each of those master trainers who noted the certification test itself. For K9 trials, many handlers believe that winning a trophy doesn’t offer a lot of strength in a court room. But this is an opinion of those individuals.
Does the American Society of Canine Trainers offer proper representation for agency or court?
Yes. Trainers, master trainers, instructors, and senior instructors are always willing to assist. Additionally, ASCT has a four part balance system. First, the K9 team has to meet a blind hide certification that is witnessed, assessed, and signed by the evaluator. Next, during the year, the K9 team’s file (records, usage, instructor reports, certification documents, etc.) are audited by the ASCT organizational Liability Auditor attorney’s office. This office is separate from the ASCT administration and is hired by ASCT as a legal auditor agency. Third, the K9 team attends an advanced class, at some point during the year, whereby an instructor evaluates the team to assure that they are indeed performing to standards and offers a second signature of proof as a check and balance of the initial signature. Finally, the K9 team will undergo a double blind hide, issued by an instructor or master trainer. This is a fourth level proof whereby the trainer and handler have no knowledge of the scenario tested but the evaluation is made and reported. Thus, the instructor or trainer cannot guide the K9 team.
Are the ASCT certifications annual?
Yes. Teams qualify each year.
Okay, I certify. Now what can ASCT offer me?
The American Society of Canine Trainers operates divisions of research and education. This means that ASCT participates in research projects constantly. Our research team and certification board extends research programs, which are developed through universities, independent scientists, professionals of specified fields, etc. The organization places an emphasis on proofing research. This research has been the primary reason so many handlers and agencies have truly enjoyed being certified by ASCT. The information and development processes are highly proficient. This research is offered each year in a variety of advanced conferences located throughout the nation.
ASCT also operates a division of education, whereby the college of K9 developmental science is established. Certified teams and trainers are automatically accepted into this collegiate, educational program. The program offers all those who are certified the opportunity to accomplish a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees through the American Society of Canine Trainers.