At any given time thousands of K-9 teams are stationed around the world. Locally, Austin police are busy using dogs for drug busts, bomb sniffing and patrol stops. Both have much to learn from one another and they came together for a joint training session.
Austin police k-9 handler James Pearson guides his dog Jery through what Fort Hood soldiers call the K-9 gauntlet.
Jery is searching for explosives. The wind is part of the challenge, but it can't fool his nose for long. He leads Pearson to hidden dynamite.
Pearson and seven other APD K-9 officers traveled to Fort Hood to work their dogs and watch other agencies including army teams run through the same courses.
The officers search for drugs in multiple locations including a stadium. They then search for a human.
Agencies and soldiers as far away as Chicago participate.
"It's important to spread your knowledge. To just get those different ideas and tactics,” said Pearson.
Ft. Hood soldiers created the training event with the realization police and soldiers can learn a lot from one another.
"Our civilian counterparts have a little less training time than we have, so they are more focused on operation utilization,” said SFC Thomas Macagg, II. “Our bread and butter for our dog program is detection aspect. They rely on their patrol abilities. Just sharing their lessons learned what they encounter on road as far as patrol scenarios really increases our awareness of how to better train our dogs in the future."
The unfamiliar location also helps improve the dogs' skills.
"It really makes the dogs have to work extra hard because they don't know where anything is at. It's a new environment,” said Macagg. "The only thing that limits a dog's training is imagination and initiative. If you can think it up, you can pretty much train a dog into it. You don't have the initiative to dream it up then the dog's going to be stagnant."
Successful teams here and abroad mean a safer environment for us all.
"We are continuously deploying even as the war is downsizing the dogs are still the most requested asset in any theater of operation. We support special forces on down to the secret service,” said Macagg. "There is nothing that can beat a dog's nose. There's no machine made that can be more reliable than our dogs noses are."
This was the second training event. Ft. Hood hopes to conduct joint trainings once every six months.