As Arizona budget negotiations continue, DPS hoping for more money to improve its K-9 program

Arizona’s budget will start to take shape over the next few weeks, and officials with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) are hoping lawmakers will throw them a bone, when it comes to their K-9 operations.

DPS has been using the same dog training facility for almost two decades with little to no upgrades. When recreational cannabis became legal, they had to retrain multiple dogs all at once that had been conditioned to sniff out pot. It created a greater need, and they hope they can get help with from the legislature.

Jeff Hawkins with the Arizona State Troopers Association says now is the time to ask.

"It’s been here a long time, and really without any real improvements," said Hawkins.

Arizona’s climate means dog training in the summer can be brutal on the animals and the handlers

"Doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, they have to train," said Hawkins. "In the summertime, it becomes inconvenient with schedules. They have to come in at nighttime, and what we’d like to do is have a facility where the weather wouldn’t dictate where they’re training all the time."

Officials also prefer a turf training field with some shade. The $1.9 million could also go towards trooper vehicles outfitted with kennels for the animals. In all, they need a little more bark down at the State Capitol to push the request through.

"These dogs are used primarily for intercepting drugs, monies, and anything you can imagine that’s illegal that they come across in those units. They’re specialized, that’s what they do, that’s where they focus all of their time, is making sure they interdict the stuff coming from the cartels," said Hawkins.

DPS money comes from the General Fund, and there is some support for this particular item. Meanwhile, budget negotiations are ongoing.

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