Police K-9 Training: Man's Best Friend Takes on New Role

We all know they're man's best friend, but for the dozens of K-9 officers spending the week in Abilene for a required training & certification seminar, these dogs are much more than just that.

"Honestly, I spend more time with my K-9 partner than I do my wife and children," said Danny Macchio, a long-time K-9 officer with the Grapevine Police Dept.

"He would give his life for me and he thinks I would give my life for him," laughed Macchio. "Well, I probably would, because we're a team."

He's talking about Ranger, a first-time certified dog who Macchio is in the process of training. While the complicated commands might be new for Ranger, they're not new for Macchio, who is now on his third four-legged partner.

"He's coming along, doing pretty good, but you can see he still acts just like a puppy, he just turned two," Macchio said.

Macchio and Ranger are just one of 23 K-9 teams spending the week in the Key City, going through various training exercises to earn their certification.

And it's not one and done -- these dogs have to be certified every single year, because if they're not, the cases they work on could be compromised.

"It affects their credibility in court if they don't certify in a specific area and the department allows them to still work on the street," said Brian Hintz, a senior K-9 Officer and president of Region 25.

And while first-timers like Ranger are learning the ropes, old veterans like Hintz and his K-9 Brinkley have been through it seven times already.

Hintz said this certification session will likely be Brinkley's last, before he runs off into retirement.

"He's had a long career and I'm getting a good life out of him for police work, because it's a very athletic type of life," Hintz explained.

The dogs are typically given to the human officers when they retire, so they can continue to live with them.

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