YUMA, AZ - The Yuma Sector Border Patrol Station is stepping up its efforts to catch more drug smugglers. Agents are turning to man's best friend, two canine pups who are now in training.
Border patrol says four month old siblings Kala and Kirpy will go through rigorous training in the coming months where they'll be exposed to the environment, including the Colorado River, so they'll know what to sniff out once they're out on patrol.
The two Belgian Malinois recently acquired have begun the early stages of training which involves a lot of play time.
"The dogs have to enjoy doing what they're doing so we're going to get them out, we're going to just expose them to a little bit of everything so when they are ready to go out and work that they're not fearful or afraid of anything they might encounter," said Wesley Burch, Yuma Sector K9 Coordinator.
Burch has been working with the border patrol canine unit for more than 16 years and says canine agents play a vital role in preventing drugs from hitting the streets.
Yuma border patrol currently has more than 60 canine agents on their team.
Kala is being trained as a detection dog. She will be working in different locations like an inspection checkpoint or a port of entry detecting drugs and people being smuggled.
"The dog… is able to help sniff that out, if you will, and it's very crucial. Wherever we can't see into it, the dog can still smell that," said Burch.
Border Patrol says over 80-percent of all drugs seized are found by a canine agent. In 2012 alone, border patrol dogs found more than $31 million worth of drugs.
"Narcotics smuggler have unlimited resources so they can hide people or narcotics anywhere," said Burch.
Unlimited resources are not the case for border patrol stations across the country who are facing deep budget cuts.
We asked Burch if sequestration has affected their canine program.
"It's very cost effective if you considered one load of cocaine might be worth several million dollars, the border patrol doesn't spend anywhere near that."
The two canine pups will train for at least 11 months before they go on the job. Kala and Kirpy will be replacing two canine agents who will be retiring soon.
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