Local News

Highway Patrol starts new canine program

Posted June 11, 2009 11:03 a.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2009 6:20 p.m. EDT

— Six months after it dissolved its old canine program amid criticism of dog welfare, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has implemented a new one with new dogs and new handlers.

Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said Thursday that six Labrador retrievers had been paired with freshly trained troopers. Clendenin says the patrol is using Labs because they are better at detecting drugs, which is the dogs' primary duty.

"We're not there to have an attack dog, or a dog that conducts searchers. We're there simply to remove narcotics off the highway,” Clendenin said.

Clendenin says shepherd breeds that had been used in the past aren't needed anymore because they are no longer used for pursuits and protection.

The patrol disbanded its canine unit in December after incidents raised concerns about treatment of the dogs. A video showed Trooper Charles Jones kicking his dog, which wasn't injured. Jones was fired and his dog, Ricoh, was given early retirement.

"This is the final step in closing the door on the stuff that happened a year ago," Sgt. Charles Joyner said.

"We have learned some things from it and we believe we have got one of the best programs now in the nation," Clendenin said.