Wildlife poachers in Utah have two new officers to fear in the Division of Wildlife Resources, but when catching criminals, these two come on all fours and with very wet noses.
Carlo and Cruz, both two-year-old labrador retrievers, were welcomed to the force Monday and demonstrated their uncanny tracking abilities at the Lee Kay shooting range in Salt Lake City. After spending months away at a police academy in Indiana with their trainers, the two were given their badges.
Carlo’s handler, Josh Carver, said the dogs were chosen for the job due to their desire to please.
“One of the things you look for is a high drive," Carver said. "And that drive sometimes leads dogs into animal shelters cause the family says, ‘Hey I brought this dog home and he was supposed to be a chill dog but he is off the wall, he is bouncing up and down, he is on my couch.’ Well, that is the dog we are looking for.”
The dogs specialize in tracking animals, people and articles, such as weapons hidden by fleeing poachers. For each task, the dogs have a different harness or collar that Carver said cues the dogs in to what they are tracking.
While the dogs are best at tracking criminals, they also act as a friendly face for the department, and Carver said that is why they prefer Labs to typical police dogs like German Shepards.
“We really want it to be something that is familiar to the people we usually encounter so I think it deescalates situations," he said, "but I’ll be honest, it really doesn’t matter the breed but it does seem to make our hunters feel a little more at ease when we have a lab.”
At the end of the day, Carlo goes home with Carver’s family, but is always ready to go back to work.
“It is his favorite thing, when I let him out of his kennel, he rushes to my truck, as fast as he can," Carver said. "He beats me to the truck and he is waiting like ‘let’s go to work boss, let’s go.’”