Six new K-9 teams are heading to the U.S.-Mexico border after graduating from a five-week intensive training program.
Consisting of three Dutch Shepherds and three Belgian Malinois, this group of dogs represents the inaugural class of the newly founded Texas Highway Patrol Canine Tracking Operations Program.
Designed to equip teams with the necessary skills for their role, the program “focused on human tracking across a variety of terrains over long distances.” Each team “ran approximately 700 tracks” over the course of the program.
Brad Langham, one of the consultants who assisted in developing the new program, detailed how the new teams “should help deter cartel members bringing stuff across [the border], and it should be able to help with our security, help us feel a bit safer, and give our officers an extra capability to help stop that process.”
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw celebrated the teams’ deployments, stating, “This is yet another step in increasing our efforts to secure our southern border…K-9 units have long played an integral role within DPS and we know these newly graduated teams will have a positive impact not only in the areas they serve, but really in keeping all Texans safe.”
K-9 units have an extensive track record of successfully inhibiting drug trafficking along the border. In the fiscal year 2021 alone, drug-sniffing dogs helped officers seize over $100 million worth of drugs being brought across the El Paso Sector of the border.
Still, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has recently pushed for supplementing or replacing K-9 units with robotic dogs. Program manager Brenda Long explained the initiative by stating, “The southern border can be an inhospitable place for man and beast, and that is exactly why a machine may excel there.”