TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Kimberly-Hansen Police Department recently retired their four-year K-9 Ester and are now training Riggs, a seven-month-old Belgian Malinois.
Ester was a six-year-old German Shepard who they bought in October 2014. K-9 officer Cpl. Alex Arrington said they retired her because of her health.
"She had an eye condition that was eventually going to take her sight, so we gave her a little bit of a retirement," Arrington said.
Now, he is training with Riggs, who came from the Nampa Police Department and followed in the footsteps of his parents who were also K-9 dogs.
"His mom is currently a certified EOD dog and his dad is a retired dual purpose dog," he said.
Riggs will be following the footsteps of his father, training to be a dual purpose dog in narcotics and criminal tracking apprehension.
"To get a dual purpose training dog certified in the state of Idaho, you're looking at 400 man, dog hours of training," he said.
Arrington added that in order for the dogs to get certified, they must pass at 100 percent in Idaho, unlike some other states who might only need 80 percent.
On Friday, it was Riggs first day training and they used the four hole variable method, where they use four boxes with three empty and one with bags of narcotics in them. The narcotics included marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroine and ecstasy.
"Basically what we're going to do is familiarize him and make the odor of narcotics fun," Arrington said.
The drugs come from the Drug Enforcement Administration that are no longer needed for evidence.
"A lot of people think that we feed narcotics to our dogs, or we get them addicted to the drugs," he said. "All of this is just a game of hide-and-go seek, where we're teaching him if you can smell these odors, you're going to get a reward."
While Arrington has been working with Ester for the past four years, he said being with Riggs is "an entirely different experience, but in essence the same as well."
"Every dog is different, just like every child has their own personality. Every dog is going to work different," he continued. "This process that we're in right now, is me trying to learn the dog, the dog trying to learn me and both of us learn the process together."
Arrington said that training can last for a couple of hours to 10 to 12 hours, depending on the dog's endurance and what they have planned for the day.
With the past K-9 dog Ester, Arrington said they had about 150 calls in the three or four years they had her.
Arrington said Ester was bought with drug asset forfeiture money and Riggs was bought through the budget at the police department.
Eventually, Riggs will be training on searching through cars and houses.