ProRanger Philadelphia invites you to meet the Bark Ranger

Ken Franklin, the National Park Service Bark Ranger, visits Temple University's Homecoming

Think of it as a tale of two canines…or tail if you prefer.

Temple University Campus Safety Services and the National Park Service have more in common than protecting the individuals who study, work and visit the various locations that they serve.

They also both have law enforcement officers of the four-legged variety.

On Friday, April 15 and Wednesday, April 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Temple University students, faculty and staff are invited to learn more about the ProRanger Philadelphia Program — a partnership between Temple University and the National Park Service to train park rangers — on Liacouras Walk.

ProRanger students and instructors will be joined in promoting the program by Ken Franklin, the “Bark Ranger,” a 5-year-old German Shepherd, K-9 Ranger and federal law enforcement officer at Independence National Historical Park.

Temple University’s K-9 unit, Baron, will also be on hand. Both dogs trained together in the Philadelphia Police Department’s 10-week training course approved by the U.S. Police Canine Association.

Both canines are very important members of their respective law enforcement agencies, said Adrian Fernandez, Supervisory Park Ranger and ProRanger Program Manager.

“In addition to standard training, many of the dogs go through specialized training programs depending on what their assignments will be from drugs to bomb sniffing to search and rescue,” Fernandez said. “(Ken Franklin) is able to detect a wide variety of explosives.”

Temple University Police Officer Doug Hotchkiss has been with his K-9 partner Baron since 2013. The four and a half year old Belgian Malinois “is the best partner in the world,” he said.

Having both gone through the Philadelphia Police Department’s training, Baron and Ken Franklin have seen each other from time to time since their graduation, Hotchkiss said, and certainly get along well. Baron and Ken Franklin both went through explosives and patrol training together, he added.

“Baron also has specialized patrol training, which includes criminal apprehension, tracking and evidence recovery. I think Baron is an essential part of Temple’s police force,” he said. “With so many campus facilities, his training is vital in building searches. If there is a robbery or incident of that nature, he can track a suspect. It is good to have a police dog on the force rather than having to wait for another agency with those capabilities.”  

Ken Franklin works in Independence National Historical Park as a full-time K-9 with his handler, National Park Ranger Nick Iannelli. Independence National Historical Park relies on working dogs during major festivals and events, dignitary visits and emergency situations. He was the first canine to become part of the Independence Park team in 2013.

“Ken Franklin is a dual purpose dog — scent detection and patrol. Independence National Park, with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, is considered a national icon,” said Iannelli. “His service is invaluable. If there is an unattended bag, we are able to check it right away.

Ken has also be an ambassador for the National Park Service at several major events, according to Iannelli.

“He is trained for large crowd events. He was part of the festivities at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. He also attended Temple Homecoming and will be visiting Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest celebration on April 22,” he said. “We are lucky that even though he has been patrol trained, he has remained very friendly. We don’t kennel him at all; he comes home with me every night.”

K-9 units, Fernandez said, act in special partnership with their handlers.

“Often park rangers patrol on their own. The K-9’s provide additional support,” he said. “For example, with a park like Independence, he would assist in searching buildings or in emergency situations, which is essential for high profile locations such as Independence Hall, a location where several of our ProRanger graduates have been stationed.”

The ProRanger Philadelphia Program has recently gone through a full curriculum update designed to provide students with even more experience with the National Park Service prior to graduation. The ProRanger program is open to students from all majors at Temple.

In addition to coursework, students complete two summer internships, leadership training camp, a conservation project and the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP) offered at Temple University Ambler. Ambler is one of only seven institutions in the country to offer SLETP while Temple is just one of two sites to offer the ProRanger program — Temple is the only university to offer both.

For more information about the ProRanger Philadelphia program, visit www.temple.edu/provost/university-college/proranger or contact 215-597-1744 or Adrian_fernandez@nps.gov.