In a year featuring many changes, one of the bigger changes at the Texas County Sheriff’s Department (TCSD) in 2013 was the addition of a K-9 unit.

To augment the ability to find illegal narcotics and drugs, Sheriff James Sigman’s force added Tara, a four-year-old female Dutch Shepard. Tara was obtained from LaFollete K-9 Training Center in Strafford, and along with her handler, deputy Clinton Jones, completed certification training at the same facility in October. 

“In the civilian world, I’ve worked with dogs for a while,” Jones said. “Tara goes everywhere I go, even at home. No matter what I do, this dog is on my heels. And she and I never stop training – we train almost every day.”

Jones joined the sheriff’s department at the beginning of 2013 after working as an officer with the Cabool Police Department.

He and Tara have been practicing and training with officers and dogs from the Houston and Licking police departments.

“We try to get together at least once a week,” Jones said. “That gives the dogs a chance to get a feel for each other and gives them real-world experience for when we encounter dogs during our searches.”

One of the sheriff department’s Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs was modified as the agency’s canine transport vehicle.

“She has a kennel in the back,” Jones said, “and of course, as handlers, we have to carry special tools of the trade for the dog, like a first-aid kit and an overdose kit, in case she ingests drugs when she finds them. And we always have food and water on hand.”

Jones said Tara has already done her job a couple of times.

“She has had some drug busts since we’ve had her,” he said. “Nothing real major yet, but she has found some drugs in cars. But we’re just really starting to get going now.”

Sigman said Tara should soon become a familiar sight to county residents.

“We haven’t had her out a lot yet, but we hope to get her out a lot more to some events and to schools,” Sigman said. “It’s one of those things where you want to start slow. You don’t want to take a new handler and new dog and jump right into it before they’re both ready.

“But I think we’re about ready to get to work.”

Tara goes everywhere I go, even at home. No matter what I do, this dog is on my heels. And she and I never stop training – we train almost every day.”

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