Atlas, from the Hill Country Dog Center, will soon become the newest member of the Hesston Police Department.
Monday evening, Hesston city council approved the purchase of Atlas for $10,500.
Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder said he traveled to the Texas facility and met with trainers and examined several dogs.
“We evaluated seven or eight dogs and ranked our top three. Our top choice was Atlas. They are going to begin training all three dogs with odor imprinting for major drugs at the end of February.
“We will send Jacob Garver down there in three weeks to train with the dog at their facility,” he said.
Schroeder said the $10,500 for the dog will include training and accommodations for Garver while he works with the dog in Texas. He indicated there are several funding sources for the dog.
“We haven’t heard the final amount on the Lions Club Pancake fundraiser, but it is several thousand. Other funding sources are $5,600 in drug asset forfeiture money,” he said.
According to Schroeder, $4,000 of funding is coming from the Newton Police Department after a $35,000 drug bust in which Remo, the former Hesston police dog, was part of the search.
“This dog thing has worked well, breaking even or making money over time,” remarked Mayor Dave Kauffman.
Kauffman inquired, should Garver leave, if Atlas could be re-assigned to another officer.
“Dogs can train to different masters. Remo acclimated pretty quickly. We would send them through the Sedgwick Country training program,” said Schroeder.
Councilwoman Susan Swartzendruber asked about what kind of training the dog would receive. The previous police dog was trained in narcotics detection and apprehension. However, due to a degenerative spinal condition, the dog was retired early and was not utilized as an apprehension animal.
“Our main focus is single narcotics detection. That is all this dog will be trained for,” said Schroeder.
In a cost-benefit analysis, Schroeder said a single-purpose dog was more cost effective than a dog cross-trained for detection and apprehension.
“We have rare possible deployments, like the chase through the field. It’s a cost thing. Realistically it would cost another $7,000 on this cost for a dual-purpose with very little use,” he said.
The council unanimously approved the purchase of the dog.