WOOD COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - There’s a new K9 in Wood County, and he just graduated from an intensive 9-week training course in Houston with his handler.
Pct 2 Constable Kelly Smith previously was the handler of K9 Juma. Over the past several months, Juma became ill with Addisons Disease and had to retire. She is now living at home with the Smith family and will be doing occasional public relations visits with area schools.
Now, K9 Mata has stepped in to take over the intense role of apprehending suspects, sniffing drugs and other work K9s are expected to do. On Sept. 11, Mata and Smith graduated from Houston K9 Academy. Mata is the first K9 in Wood County to be nationally certified in tracking, narcotics detection and patrol by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association, Smith says.
Training school for the K9s is expensive and not in the Wood County budget, so local businesses donated to help get the enrollment, cost of the dog, and training sessions paid for, at a cost of about $16,500. Hotel fees and travel costs were paid out of pocket by Smith, who continued working on the weekends in Wood County after training school was over in Houston each week.
In a Facebook post, Smith explains how the dogs came to be a part of the Wood County Pct. 2 law enforcement team, along with Smith and his unpaid Reserve Deputy Jeff Hammond.
Mata and Smith are back in Wood County after the 9-week intensive course, and Juma is said to be pleased to have them back with her during her recovery.