New Smith County K9s put to the test - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

New Smith County K9s put to the test

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Weeks of training are paying off for Smith County Sheriff's Deputies and their new K9s. Deputy Jeff Hobson said the department's new K9s are all business.

"They are classified as dual-purpose K9s. They are certified in the detection of narcotics, to track people, and they also bite on command. It's a significant amount of training," explains Hobson. 

That training was put to the test on Wednesday morning during a demonstration put on by the sheriff's department. When deputies hid a box of marijuana under a car, they counted on the dogs to sniff it out. The K9s did not disappoint. It took only seconds for the dogs to locate the marijuana, clawing and scratching at the tire where the drugs were hidden.

Costing right at $11,500 a piece, officials said these dogs have not wasted time or money. Sheriff Larry Smith said the dogs have found 30 to 40 narcotics so far. They also assisted in the Wood County manhunt that happened a few weeks ago, when an East Texas man took off into the woods after allegedly firing at a DPS trooper and a Wood County Sheriff's Deputy.

"We were called out to that location. Lanny (one of the K9s) and Deputy Hobson went out there and was able to track the individual to a specific location, at which time they got the Department of Criminal Justice bloodhounds up to finish the track on that. We were able to keep that individual, keep a perimeter on that, because of the work of the K9," said Sheriff Smith.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said his office funded the dogs using drug forfeiture money and that they are worth every penny. 

"When it comes down to apprehending a criminal, someone who has escaped or committed a violent crime against another citizen in Smith County, or protecting the lives of these patrol deputies, I don't know how you put a price on that," said Bingham.

Deputy Hobson and deputy Tim Cutright are the dogs' handlers and trained for three weeks at Worldwide Canines in San Antonio with their respective K9s.  The sheriff's office said each deputy continues to train with his dog for a minimum of eight hours a week.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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