There’s a new dog who will be patrolling the streets with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office soon, working to help deputies sniff out suspects and narcotics.
The dog, Ayke, pronounced Ike, is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois donated to ECSO by the National Police Dog Foundation. Ayke will be replacing ECSO’s last dog, who was recently euthanized after becoming seriously ill. There is currently only one other dog with the ECSO K-9 Section—Axel a 4-year-old German Shepherd.
Lt. Richard Dickson of the ECSO K-9 Section will be training Ayke for the next three weeks, and said Ayke is doing well so far.
“He’s doing great,” Dickson said. “He’s exceeding my expectations of him.”
Ayke will be working with patrol and narcotics officers, which entails being available for patrol deputies and investigative staff when they need to track or trail suspects hiding or evading on foot, or hiding inside of a structure.
“We would prefer to send a dog after a dangerous suspect than a deputy,” Dickson said.
Ayke will also be available for drug detection on search warrants and traffic stops.
“Dogs with the drive to do only the narcotics work are very rare,” Dickson said. “In searching dog pounds, it may be one in 1,000 dogs that may have the potential for the work. Then the dogs must have good health, good hips and be emotionally stable.”
Training is a constant for ECSO’s police dogs. Whether it be obedience, tracking or narcotics, some kind of training will be done daily with the K-9 unit, Dickson said. Ayke has already had prior training from Europe and from the vendor that supplied him to the National Police Dog Foundation.
Ayke is valued at around $10,000, Dickson said, a value which has only increased over the years.
“The worldwide demand for working dogs has increased greatly with many countries now employing explosive detection and contraband detection dogs,” Dickson said.
Shipping alone for a dog like Ayke, who was shipped here from Germany, is around $2,000, Dickson said. Dogs with the potential to do police work may range from anywhere between $5,000 and $9,000, while a fully trained police dog can cost in excess of $14,000.
Dickson said police dogs should retire after seven years of service.