Texas game wardens have added another tool to their arsenal: a K-9 unit.
The first five canine handlers and dogs recently graduated from an eight-week training program located at the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training canine facility in Salt Lake City. The second wave of canine handlers and dogs will attend the course in January, according to a news release.
“The K-9 program has been a long time coming, and we are extremely proud of our handlers for their hard work — an effort which resulted in a 100 percent pass rate,” said Grahame Jones, chief of special operations for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division, in the release. “In addition to excellent support from the department and the Parks and Wildlife Commission, we would like to thank the Travis County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation for assisting during the planning phase.”
Funding for the purchase of dogs and travel to and from Utah was provided by the Parks and Wildlife Foundation through a private donor. POST provided the training at no cost with the exception of a minimal administrative fee, an amount also funded by the private donor.
The dogs will be used for functions including detection of illegally taken or smuggled game and fish, search and rescue, cadaver search and narcotics enforcement.
“Most of the dogs will have dual functions such as wildlife detection and search and rescue,” said Game Warden Capt. Kevin Davis, who oversees the canine program, in the release.