The Texas Game Wardens have implemented their first ever full-time canine unit. The team was assembled in early October of 2013 after the dogs and their handlers completed a rigorous eight-week training program in Salt Lake City. A second team of dogs and handlers began their training in January of 2014, with subsequent teams to follow. The first team saw a 100% pass rate and it is expected that the second unit will see the same results.
The first canine unit for the Texas Game Wardens was assembled through the efforts of the Travis County Sheriff’s Department, the Parks and Wildlife Commission, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A private donor fronted the bill for the purchase of the canines, as well as the travel cost involved to and from the training facility in Utah.
The canine unit training program is designed to take dogs and their prospective handlers from “zero to hero” in the shortest amount of time possible. That is to say, the handlers typically know nothing about dogs and the dogs know nothing about the work they are being trained to perform, and yet the eight-week program is intended to provide both with the skill set and knowledge necessary to perform the duties of a law enforcement canine unit at a consistently high level. The Salt Lake City program itself, however, is nothing new, having trained more than 2500 canine teams from fifty countries.
The canine units will be used for several duties including search and rescue operations, narcotics, enforcement, cadaver searches, and the detection of smuggled or illegally obtained game and fish. The overall canine program was implemented in an effort to combat the trafficking of contraband in communities around the state of Texas.