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East Hartford officer teaching top K9 cops from around the country

After a horrifying attack, Officer Todd Mona battled back to be a top K9 trainer.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — It's a story well known in police circles all around Central Connecticut. 

In 2009, East Hartford Officer Todd Mona and his K9 partner Primo were both attacked by an assailant during a domestic violence call.

Mona was shot twice -- in both legs -- and Primo was stabbed multiple times.

The policing duo spent months rehabbing and both overcame their obstacles and made a triumphant return to the police beat.

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After the incident, Mona decided not only would he continue his police work, he also began what is called the “Capital Region K9 Training Group."

For the past eight years, he has been dedicated to teaching K9 handlers and their dogs, not just in Connecticut, but across the country.

During a recent training session at an abandoned building in East Hartford, Mona said his course covers the gamut.

“Everything from narcotic detection, to firearm detection, patrol functions, to finding missing children and Alzheimer’s patients – all the dogs in our group have had a lot of success," he said.

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In the last few years, Mona has taken his teaching tactics all over the country.

“It’s kind of grown from a local thing to now being nationally recognized and teaching at national conferences,” Mona said.

During the training day for local K9 officers and their handlers, Mona was busy setting up building search scenarios for the teams and critiquing their performances. 

"This is real world, or as real as we can make it so that the dogs keep growing and growing and getting better," Mona said.

Officer Neal Ayotte, a new K9 handler from the Southington Police Department, was working with his German Shepherd “Tank” at a recent training session.

“Todd is an asset to have, I just want to get as much experience and training with Todd as I can," he said.

Officer Tim Camerl, a new K9 handler from West Hartford added: “He builds confidence in the handlers and in the dogs too.”

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Mona, now a 20-year veteran of the East Hartford Department, said the best part of the training is sewing the dogs who succeed at the job.

“Everybody here is here for the right reasons and we love what we do," he added.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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