La Feria News

Law Enforcement Dogs Take Course at Santa Maria ISD

Samantha Neri stands behind Callie as she tries to detect drugs in a Santa Maria school district room. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Four students took a course at the Santa Maria Independent School District.

But these pupils were not of the two-legged type.

They were actually canines that assist law enforcement personnel to detect narcotics in schools and homes in K-9 details.

The four dogs, three Belgian Malinois and a mixed red bone hound, went through a certification course given by Dogs for Law

Enforcement, a Houston-based company created by John Ivey and run by Pam Smith.

The two gave certain instructions to the dog handlers before the canines went through a series of steps which they must pass to be certified.

Each dog went inside two rooms and in the hallway of Santa Maria Middle School where some items were hidden. Each dog was to find the “drugs” and alert their handlers about their finding.

The Belgian Malinois did so silently, but the brown dog emitted a heavy hound signal.

Later on, the dogs were taken outside for another task – going around vehicles.

Lupe Garza warms up Colt 44 before going through a certification course. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

Hubert Neri said they chose Santa Maria because the school district is small compared to San Benito where his daughter, Samantha, runs DHK9 – a training and sales facility.

Neri said they used to train German Shepherd dogs but they now use Belgian Malinois, which are alert, stubborn hard-working dogs.

The average cost of one of these dogs runs about$2,000 and about $6,000 fully trained.

One of the dogs they brought to the certification course is named K-9 Callie.

Neri’s daughter handled her as she held Callie on a leash throughout the process on Monday, April 29.

He said the dogs they either train or sell are used by school districts and private security companies.

Lupe Garza handles a dog named Colt 44 and it came from Neri’s DHK9.

Garza said Colt has made numerous drug busts at the school, Including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and fentanyl.

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