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By Laura Landsbaum

It started with Bianca, a Dutch shepherd who joined the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in 2005, getting assigned to the narcotics department as a single purpose dog. She was the first police dog servicing the entire county, including The Woodlands.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s office has eight K9 units in operation — and has since 2010. A K9 unit consists of a dog, a handler known as a canine specialist and a vehicle. A sergeant oversees the unit, with his or her responsibility primarily centering around training.  

Police dogs are typically one of two breeds — a Dutch shepherd or a Belgian Malinois. They come to Montgomery County already trained as one or two-year-olds, at an average cost of $15,000 and are paired with a handler.

“They’re constantly training,” Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson says. “That’s one of the sergeant’s main responsibilities — continuing education for both the dogs and the handlers. The handler is trained on how to use commands with their partner dog.”

Bianca, the first K9 officer in Montgomery County, is a beloved police dog pioneer. (Courtesy Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

“Most of them are patrol dogs, which means they are dual purpose: tracking and narcotics,” Henderson notes. “They can track for people and they can also detect illegal narcotics.”

In a case of missing persons, police dogs can search for regular persons or track suspects.

The Police Dog Life

It’s not an unforgiving life for these police dogs. These K9 officers receive excellent care for all their hard — and sometimes life-saving — work in the community. They receive constant vet care and evaluation, and monitoring of their health.

And when a K9’s service time comes to an end, typically after about 10 years on the job, their police handler gets the opportunity to adopt the dog.

“When we get to the point where they can no longer be of service, then the handler has the opportunity to adopt the dog,” Montgomery County chief deputy Damon Hall says. “That’s now been codified in statute. If that handler ends up with that dog for multiple years, usually they’ll want to retire with them.”

K9s make a life saving difference in Montgomery County. And these officers are beloved. (Courtesy Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office also employs a bomb dog as well.

“We only have one,” Hall notes. “We use that in The Woodlands at the Ironman (triathlon) and at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. They also do sweeps of courtrooms, courthouses and the commissioner’s court.”

Montgomery County and The Woodlands, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this October, certainly owe these four-legged officers a debt of gratitude. Sometimes a community’s best friend is a well trained K9.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School