DOGS ON PATROL
Dogs and people have been working side by side for thousands of years. Since the early 1980s, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit (or K-9) has assisted in serving and protecting residents and visitors countywide. Specially-trained canines are invaluable to our deputies when tracking criminals, finding illegal materials, retrieving evidence and searching for missing people.
Today, BSO has a total of 49 dogs assigned throughout the agency. The Canine Unit is available 24 hours a day for immediate response. There are dogs assigned to our patrol unit, to the airport to assist the TSA, to our Bomb Unit and to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (BSFR). BSO relies on canine counterparts, because a dog’s sense of smell is almost 50 times more sensitive than a human’s and can discern a specific scent even when there are dozens of other scents around. Every dog in the BSO canine team attends a mandatory academy for 8 to 12 weeks of specialized training. After completion, weekly training is conducted as well as annual recertification through nationally-recognized organizations to ensure all members of the team are at peak performance. Two of the most recent canines to join the team are Dig and Council.
Approximately one year ago, Dig became the first and only BSFR dog. He is the newest member of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force II. This is an elite force of search and rescue dogs because of the harsh conditions of disaster environments and the agility needed to access search and rescue areas. Dig is trained to find live victims of collapsed buildings, vehicle accidents with ejections, as well as passengers thrown from train and plane accidents. His training is also invaluable when searching open areas for a missing adult or child. Dig is certified for the entire state of Florida and has received his national certification, FEMA CE, the highest level a search and rescue dog can achieve.
Council, who was donated to the agency by the Broward Sheriff's Advisory Council in December, helps BSO’s Department of Detention take a proactive approach to identifying cell phone smuggling in the jails. Council is equipped to sniff out seven contraband scents in Broward County jails, including cigarettes and other contraband. Outside of the federal prison system, it is extremely rare for a law enforcement agency to have access to a much-needed canine such as Council. In fact, BSO is the only sheriff’s office in Florida to have a dog exclusively assigned to the jails. Smuggled phones could facilitate new crimes or intimidate witnesses who are scheduled to testify in court against defendants. By taking a proactive approach, we eliminate the possibility of these concerns becoming a countywide problem.
The BSO Canine Unit has more than earned its place in law enforcement. That is why, when it is time for a dog to retire, we honor each canine’s illustrious career by encouraging the bond between dog and handler to continue. As a reward for their loyalty and service, retired canines typically live out the rest of their lives in their handlers’ homes under their human companions’ care. All of BSO’s past and present BSO canines are recognized and honored on a special commemorative wall in our main headquarters.
To learn more about our Canine Unit’s approach to public safety, I encourage all residents to attend one of the team’s many public demonstrations at local schools, festivals and countywide events. I invite residents to meet one of our dogs on patrol – our bloodhound Macie – as she helps me host our annual BSO Cooper City “Chip-a-Pet” event. We will provide free microchips to dogs and cats on April 25, from 9 am to 1 pm at our BSO Cooper City District Office. If you’re a Cooper City resident interested in chipping your pet, please call 954-432-9000, ext. 249 to register.
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