New Texas law allows law enforcement animals to retire with their handlers

Proposition 10 recently passed by Texas voters allows law enforcement animals such as K9s and horses to be transferred to their handlers instead of being auctioned off. The news was welcomed by departments across the state.

Last month, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office retired K9 Axel, a seven-and-a-half-year veteran with the sheriff’s department. Axel is credited with sniffing out about a million dollars in drug-related cash and about 26 successful trackings and apprehensions of suspects. Over Axel’s career in law enforcement, he’s had several handlers, most recently Deputy Derek Garretson.

Garretson’s face immediately lit up as he spoke about his partner in crime-fighting. Garretson only worked with Axel for eight months and said the first time they met he knew they were going to be the best of friends.

"I hate to sound cliché but it was one of those love at first sight kind of moments,” Garretson said. “We immediately got along Axel has sort of a personality of he never meets a stranger."

Garretson has always wanted to be a K9-handler since he was in the military he considers being chosen to take Axel home with him a blessing.

"I thought wow those guys get paid to play with dogs. I mean what could be better than to get paid to do something you love and then hang around something you love, dogs," said Garretson. “They took a shot and let me have this amazing animal that from the minute I met him at the vet's office to the minute he retired to this very moment this very second - I love being around this dog."

Garretson said he has big plans for Axel’s retirement.

"He’s going to be completely spoiled rotten he has a memory foam dog bed from Amazon, he has about three baskets of dog treats. I think I lost count of the amount of Kong toys he has around the house now," said Garretson with a smile. "It's paw rubs and pets and belly scratches for the rest of his life."