The state agency in charge of environmental protection in Connecticut is bringing on a few canine assistants to its Environmental Conservation Police force.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced Wednesday that it has formed a K-9 unit made up of four EnCon officers and their Labrador retriever partners.
The dogs, which have been undergoing weeks of training with the EnCon handlers in tracking and evidence recovery, will be recognized in a graduation ceremony at DEEP’s Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
DEEP Spokesman Dwayne Gardner said the four teams were trained under the Connecticut State Police’s K-9 instructors, and that the animals have essentially the same training as local municipal police dogs.
“We’ll be using them predominantly for search and risk of individuals who go missing … say in places like state forests,” Gardner said.
Gardner said the DEEP deals with an average of 30 missing person cases a year, although he said no one case prompted the formation of this program. Gardner said the agency has plans to train the dogs in wildlife detection, maining they would be able to track down aggressive animals that a member of the public may report.
In a press release, DEEP Commissioners Daniel C. Esty said the K-9 teams can save valuable resources and time in critical incidents.
“Approving the K-9 unit was one of my first official acts as commissioner and it is rewarding to see the four officers that volunteered for this assignment become certified,” Esty said. “They have spent hundreds of hours working with their K-9 partners to help ensure the safety of Connecticut’s residents and visitors.”
Here are the names of the officers and their K-9 units:Officer Dog Erin Crossman Ellie Holly Bernier Saydee William Logiodice Ruger Karen Reilly Hunter
DEEP obtained three of the dogs from Connecticut Labrador Rescue Inc, in Haddam. Michael Case, a private breeder from Colebrook donated the fourth K-9 to the department. The dogs have been living and riding with their handlers for the past year, the agency said.