The Vancouver Police Department recently welcomed its newest K-9 team, Cpl. Ryan Starbuck and 1½-year-old German shepherd Tex.
Starbuck’s previous K-9 partner, Ivar, retired in May due to medical reasons after eight years of service.
The police department, which has had a K-9 unit since 2001, has four teams. All of the police dogs primarily help locating people, evidence or controlled substances.
According to Vancouver police Sgt. Brian Viles, handler selection is done within the department. The trainers then go to a vendor for dog selection and run multiple available dogs through testing. They narrow the pool to one or two potential canines.
Experience level and physicality play into consideration when selecting the canines.
Viles explained that the department uses vetted vendors that provide some warranty for workability and health.
Finding a good fit
To determine whether a dog will be a good fit, the department tests their ability to use their nose to search for toys, food, or other decoys, and it also tests their sociability, courage and environmental exposure. Lastly, potential canines are evaluated by a veterinarian.
K-9 Tex underwent 400 hours of training to be certified as a patrol dog and passed an evaluation. Although he’s not currently trained with narcotics, Viles said that could be an option in the future.
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission lists the requirements for police canine certification. The requirements for patrol include obedience, protection and control, area search, building search and tracking. In addition to the state’s standards, the police department uses the Washington State Police Canine Association to evaluate its dogs.
“We want to have a higher standard for our dogs,” Viles said.
According to the department, during his service, K-9 Ivar: saw 1,236 deployments, with 387 apprehensions; was deployed for 354 narcotic searches, resulting in 245 finds; participated in 83 public demonstrations; located 30 articles of evidence; and was selected as the Southwest Regional SWAT K-9 for 2018-2021.