by Michael Stafford
It's been seven months since the Andrews County Sheriff's Office lost a very special member of its team.
But this week, deputies are proud to announce the beginning of a new era with a brand new recruit.
And this is no ordinary crime fighter.
Devastated is probably the best way to describe Andrews County deputies back in December when their former crime fighting K-9 drug dog Pinto was killed in the line of duty.
Pinto wasn't just a well trained dog, he was their best friend. Now seven months later, a new friend has arrived.
Kai is a three year old German Shepherd. He's learning the ropes, and taking it all in stride. He's friendly and playful with his handler, but he knows when to jump into action.
And this patrol dog knows his stuff.
"Trained in tracking officer detection and criminal apprehension and like I say , we're working on the narcotics part of it. And hopefully have him certified in narcotics within the month," says Mark Greenhaw of the Andrews County Sheriff's office.
Andrews County does have a second dog, but drugs is all he knows. Kai can do it all and have a little time for playing with tennis balls on the side.
Authorities say many people don't realize just how important these animals can be, not just saving an officer's life, but helping expedite their searches.
"It's basically a lifesaver and a timesaver for the sheriff's office and personnel clearing building. A dog can clear a big warehouse in a matter of a few minutes where it would take four, five, or six officers to clear the same area," says Greenhaw.
Kai cost about seven thousand five hundred dollars, but authorities say he's worth every penny of it and more. In fact, the community loved Pinto so much, and saw the need to keep their streets clear of drugs. Residents all pitched in to buy him. He's man's best friend, but we can assure you, the criminals won't like him.