New police dog joins Lamar County Sheriff's Department

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said the donation of a police service dog to the department is a little different this time.

The dog was listed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda for the Monday meeting at the William J. “Pete” Gamble III Chancery Courthouse in Purvis as a donation from K-9 Evolutions LLC. The dog is valued at $10,000.

“Most K-9 officers own their own training dogs,” Rigel said. “Our officer, A.J. Arredondo, owns the training company that provides the dogs. We had one that recently retired, and he had an extra dog that he was training for the sheriff’s department. Dogs are under the sheriff’s department to take care of their insurance and be under my bond.”

Rigel said having the dog under the sheriff’s department also classifies the animal as an officer of the law.

“All dogs are considered sworn law enforcement officers,” he said. “Anything that might happen to a deputy as far as someone being charged with harming them also applies to the dogs.”

The newest addition brings the department’s number of service dogs back to five.

“We have one for each platoon,” Rigel said. “We also have one for interdiction and narcotics. They are all trained to do several things, such as tracking and protecting their officer.”

Rigel said the sheriff’s department realizes the true value in having the dogs on the force.

“When you want to have two deputies in a car, rather than sending a deputy alone, you can have an officer and a service dog,” he said. “So, it helps when we have manpower shortages. They are also great for public relations, because we take them out for demonstrations at schools, church groups and other activities.”

Of course, the real value comes in the dogs’ law enforcement capabilities.

“Collectively, I don’t know how many millions of dollars of drugs and contraband they have been able to recover,” Rigel said.

The sheriff added that the department is also blessed to be able to help other local law enforcement agencies when they need the use of the K-9 officers.

“We are all working together,” he said. “We’re just glad that we can offer the help.”

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