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Photograph By NICK DE LA TORRE/HOUSTON CHRONICLE Via k9s4cops.org

Featured: Harris County Sheriff Office Deputy David Thomas is pulled by his German Shepherd Boomer as he walks to his vehicle after a training session on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, in Houston.

Photograph By NICK DE LA TORRE/HOUSTON CHRONICLE Via k9s4cops.org

A dual purpose Narcotics K9 officer will soon be helping protect Hidalgo County, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who has announced the invaluable donation made by K9s4COPS, the non-profit, pro-law enforcement foundation from Houston. The prized police dog, known as “Buzbee” is currently undergoing intensive drilling with Lt. Frank Guerrero, the Hidalgo County K9 officer, courtesy of Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, at the Harris County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in Houston, said Roseann Rogers, Executive Director for K9s4COPS. “K9s are essential and indispensable tools in the pursuit of narcotics and illegal contraband in deep South Texas,” said Canales. “The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department and I are indebted, and owe a great deal of gratitude, to Kristi Schiller (the Houston philanthropist and founder of K9s4COPS) and to K9s4COPS for their incredible contribution to our local law enforcement community.”

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Dual Purpose Narcotics K9 Officer donated to Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office By K9s4COPs of Houston, announces Rep. Terry Canales

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

A dual purpose Narcotics K9 officer will soon be helping protect Hidalgo County, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who has announced the invaluable donation made by K9s4COPS, the non-profit, pro-law enforcement foundation from Houston.

The prized police dog, known as “Buzbee” is currently undergoing intensive drilling with Lt. Frank Guerrero, the Hidalgo County K9 officer, courtesy of Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, at the Harris County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in Houston, said Roseann Rogers, Executive Director for K9s4COPS.

“K9 Buzbee” is named after well-known Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who underwrote the canine gift and training, Rogers added.

“K9s are essential and indispensable tools in the pursuit of narcotics and illegal contraband in deep South Texas,” said Canales. “The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department and I are indebted, and owe a great deal of gratitude, to Kristi Schiller and K9s4COPS for their incredible contribution to our local law enforcement community.”

Schiller, a Houston philanthropist, is the founder of K9s4COPS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, and it is the largest foundation dedicated to providing K9s to law enforcement agencies in need. Since receiving its 501(c)(3) status in March 2011, K9s4COPs has provided more than 50 K9s to 25 agencies that include school districts.

“We are unquestionably safer and stronger with our new K9, and we look forward to working with Mrs. Schiller in her endeavor to help law enforcement worldwide,” added Canales, who represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County.

Schiller said she and the organization are “truly honored to present the gift of K9 Buzbee” to the people of Hidalgo County.

“Through K9s4COPS personal relationship with Rep. Canales, we were able to expedite this grant to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “K9s4COPS understands that law enforcement funding is not readily available for such a vital tool as a canine.”

The police dog’s namesake, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, said his admiration for K9s4COPS and his familiarity with South Texas prompted him to provide the financial support needed by the local sheriff’s department.

“K9s4COPS is hands down one of the country’s best charities,” Buzbee said. “Untold lives have been saved and millions of dollars in contraband have been confiscated due to their work. It goes without saying, I am proud to be a small part of it.”

The Houston lawyer added that his cases “often take me to the Rio Grande Valley, so it was important to me that the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office benefitted foremost from K9s4COPS’ efforts.”

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra shared Canales’ appreciation to K94COPS, Schiller, and Buzbee for the grant that will bring K9 Buzbee to deep South Texas.

“Police K9s are absolutely vital to public safety here in Hidalgo County and in the Rio Grande Valley, where they are instrumental in fugitive apprehensions, cash seizures, rescues, and the removal of thousands of pounds of narcotics from our communities,” Guerra explained. “Because of generous organizations that support law enforcement such as K9s4COPS, we can continue the fight against the criminal element, in continued mission of public safety.”

K9s cost between $10,000-$15,000 per dog, and most agencies struggle when budgeting for the purchase of a K9, according to the organization’s website, http://k9s4cops.org/about/. What most departments can budget for however, is the required care, training and transportation of a K9. K9s4COPs was founded to bridge this gap and ensure that K9 costs never keeps an officer from having their K9 partner.

K9 Buzbee’s arrival was needed following the death of the county’s previous police dog, named Argo, who passed away from illness in mid-October 2015. Argo’s dying minutes, surrounded by Hidalgo County’s sheriff’s officers, was memorialized in a moving video and posted online, receiving national attention.

Schiller said the untimely passing of Argo was felt by her organization.

“K9s4COPS was deeply saddened to learn Lt. Frank Guerrero’s canine partner, Argo, had recently passed away,” she reflected.

Also according to K9s4COPS:

K9s have a rich history of working with law enforcement and military units dating back to the 1800s.

Police K9s receive specific training to assist law enforcement in ways other tools cannot.

The structure of a dog’s nose gives it a sense of smell that is 300,000-500,000 times stronger than the human nose, allowing them to follow a scent trail undetectable to humans, even breaking down specific scents.

For example, humans can smell beef stew cooking, whereas a K9 smells individual ingredients like the onions, carrots, and thyme. For that reason K9s are used to sweep venues for explosives, search buildings for narcotics and apprehend suspects on the run.

K9s provide the ability to search, apprehend and sniff out narcotics, explosives and weapons on command. They provide a partnership to an officer that minimizes the danger to human

The use of K9s in military and law enforcement have proven to be effective and life saving, and should be a consideration when building a strong police presence.

According to the National Police Dog Foundation (http://www.nationalpolicedogfoundation.org/#!about-us/cg2w):

How does a police agency purchase a police dog?

Many police agencies do not have a budget for police dogs, so they are purchased by public and/or corporate donations. Agencies may also need donations to pay for the dog’s training, as well as veterinary bills, daily food and training equipment.

Why are K9s not part of a department’s regular budget items?

K9s are considered a specialty unit, which means technically they could run a department without them, unlike police cars, police officers, and their training. 80-plus percent of a police department’s budget goes toward salary, and the remaining 20 percent is needed to acquire equipment and training for the officers. There are simply not enough funds for most agencies to include the cost of K9s and their up-keep in the general budget.

What do police dogs eat?

Unlike the average family pet, a police service dog is extremely active and requires a diet formulated to meet its increased energy and nutrient demands.

What does “K9” stand for?

It is short for the species “canine”, or dog. When it is on the side of a police car it means the police car carries a working police service dog.

What breeds do they use for police dogs?

The most popular breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and occasionally mixes of these breeds. Less popular, but still used at times, are Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, and Bouvier de Flandres. Other breeds are used for detection work, if this is their sole purpose.

Are there black German Shepherds?

Yes, but the color and coat of a German Shepherd varies. They may have long hair or short; they may be solid black, sable (a mixture of grey and black color), black and tan or red, or mostly black with a few tan marking on their legs. All of these marking and coat types are normal for the German Shepherd.

Why are some Malinois so thin?

The Malinois is genetically a more slender build and a very active breed. For this reason their body is constantly burning calories. Bred to be extreme athletes, they typically have very little body fat. In addition, they can have a very short coat that gives them an even sleeker appearance.

What other breeds do police agencies use?

Labrador Retrievers are often used for narcotics and explosives detection, and evidence discovery, as well as for Search and Rescue functions. Bloodhounds are used for trailing, and many mixed breeds can be used for detection and scent work as well.

Are any of the dogs for police work ever adopted from a shelter?

Yes. It is common practice to find a good dog for scent work wherever a good dog can be found. Shelters, private homes, and adoption agencies can supply excellent dogs that love to work.

Do they use only males, or do they also use females for police service dogs?

Males and females both make excellent police service dogs.

Do you neuter and/or spay police dogs?

Females are normally always spayed because of their heat cycles and for medical benefits. Males may also often be neutered for medical or behavioral reasons.

What age does a dog begin working as a police dog?

The youngest age when they become mature enough to concentrate on training well is between 12 and 15 months.

What age does the dog retire?

Depending on its health status it is normally around 10 years of age.

Where does the dog go after he/she finishes a police career?

It lives at home with its handler to live out its life as a family pet.

Can they go on vacations with their handler and family while working as a service dog?

This depends on department policy, but normally the answer is yes.

Do police dogs live in the house or a kennel?

Normally after working a full shift they go to their kennel where they eat and get the much needed sleep and rest they will need for their next shift. However, it is not uncommon for them to come in the house on their days off, or even daily before or after their shift begins.

What type of training do they receive?

Patrol training (which includes obedience, agility, tracking, evidence searches, open area and building searches), and narcotics or explosives detection are the most common areas of training, although service dogs can also be trained to help find dead bodies, lost children, and the sick or elderly. In addition, scent discrimination training is being used to help match a potential suspect to an object such as a weapon used in a crime.

What does a police dog trained to find explosives do when he/she finds it?

The alert is passive, which means the dog will tell it’s handler that it smells an explosive component by either sitting or laying down as close to the object as possible.

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Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County. HD 4o includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr, San Carlos and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426.

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