Ursa Major Monthly

Ursa Major Monthly

Narcotics canine training on campus

photo+by+Vin+Garza
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Narcotics canine training on campus

photo by Vin Garza

photo by Vin Garza

photo by Vin Garza

photo by Vin Garza

Vincent Garza, Staff Reporter

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by: Vincent Garza

We have a new fuzzy friend on our campus, and for once, it is not a bear.

This pooch is named “Gunner” and he is on a mission to keep our school drug free. Gunner is a two and a half year old yellow Labrador who is on our campus to train to become a narcotics K-9. He is currently under the care and command of Officer Sarah Kittrell. When he is not at our school accepting pets and praises, he stays home with Kittrell.

Kittrell acquired Gunner from Spring Branch, Texas at a place called Worldwide Canine. Worldwide Canine is a training facility which turns your everyday pet into police dogs, drug detectors and even bomb detectors. He will be going around the entire district. Meaning, he will not always be on campus. Busy dogs do busy work.

As for petting goes, people are allowed to touch him as long as he does not have his “do not pet” vest on.

“When he is in the zone, he wears the vest and that’s when we don’t want people to touch him,” Kittrell said.

Gunner is a laid back dog who can be seen following Kittrell around the school.

“His temperament so far has been well-behaved,” Kittrell said.

When he is not busy sniffing out bad guys, he is sleeping or receiving many pats from his adoring fans.

“The labrador is staying on campus for the most part and will now be our school dog,” Kittrell said.

Upper-classmen might remember the Dutch Shepherd which was around before Gunner.  His owner worked on the campus but no longer does, therefore, he took the dog with him. Due to the lack of drug dog, we needed to find a replacement and that is how our dear Gunner came to be.

In Texas, in order to become a dog trainer you must first volunteer at local shelters and then hopefully, find a trainer who will take you as an apprentice. After they teach you what you need to learn, you contact CATCH Canine Training which is a school specifically for dog training.

In the police force, you are allowed to choose whether or not if you want to work in the K-9 unit. The dog is first thoroughly tested for their behavior and prey drive before they are chosen for the K-9 unit. Training of a new dog and handler lasts anywhere from eight to 10 weeks with two weeks consisting of street-type situations.

It is difficult to know how many officers have been saved from possible injury or death because of the dogs. Many times just driving up in a K-9 vehicle is all that is needed to defuse a potentially hostile situation.

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Narcotics canine training on campus