HUMBLE – Dec. 18, 2019 – Spring ISD’s newest K9 and his police handler, Officer Juan Estrada, cleared an important milestone Wednesday when they graduated from a 120-hour training program designed to prepare them for patrol.
The next step will be to start using what they’ve learned across the district, where K9 Brix will assist in the detection of explosives at the new Planet Ford Stadium, schools, offices and events. The new K9 officer is the second for Spring ISD. K9 Paco is already on the job.
“We’ve bonded together very well,” said Officer Estrada before receiving his training certificate. “He trusts me and I trust him. We’ve become very close.”
Developing the relationship between the new K9 and his handler is one of the major goals of the training program, which takes place at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Humble. Brix and Estrada worked to hone detection skills during the program, which also included new K9 officer pairs from across the area.
“It’s learning your dog and observing your dog,” Estrada said. “When you’re working, you have to watch your dog,” he said, noting that the K9 is trained to alert his handler when he detects certain scents.
K9 Brix and Estrada will have plenty of opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. Dogs trained in the detection of explosives are increasingly in demand, according to Spring ISD Police Officer David Fuente, who handles K9 Paco and serves as a certifying official for the training.
“This will be beyond the school district,” he said. “They’re going to be called to work special events and assist the sheriff’s department when they need help.”
K9 Brix joins Spring ISD thanks to the support of K9s4COPs, which donated the Belgian Malinois to the district in October. The nonprofit agency funds the purchase of highly trained K9 partners for law enforcement agencies and schools, which can cost as much as $45,000 per dog. On Wednesday, the founder of the organization, Kristi Schiller, congratulated the new graduates.
“We think you’re part of a special family and special team,” she said. “We wish you much success on the street.”
Also on hand to congratulate Estrada and K9 Brix Wednesday were Spring ISD Sgt. Dwendol Bryant and Estrada’s wife Maureen, who said she was excited for her husband, who has long wanted to be a K9 handler.
“I’m so proud of him for following his dreams,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see it all come together.”
It also helps that Estrada loves dogs as much as her husband, who brings K9 Brix home with him each night. “He just fits right in,” she said. “He’s a beautiful animal.”