Sheriff’s K-9 unit welcomes newest addition

The dog’s full name is Boomer Von Der Burg Bilstein, but the 4-year-old, 75-pound German Shepherd answers to “Boomer.”
“This will be it for a while,” said veteran Ector County Sheriff’s Office K-9 trainer Lt. Richard Dickson about the newest addition to the sheriff’s K-9 unit. “He’s a very powerful dog.”
Boomer, worth an estimated $10,000, was donated by an Edgewood, N.M.-based police dog training facility called K-9 Services. Boomer’s addition beefs up the sheriff’s K-9 unit to a grand total of two dogs, the other being a 3-year-old, 75-pound German Shepherd named Axel.
Axel was donated to the sheriff’s department by Dickson earlier this year and helped kick off, or revive interest in, the sheriff’s K-9 unit following what authorities said was a two-year hiatus. Dickson traveled last week to Albuquerque to pick-up Boomer, he said.
Like his colleague Axel, Boomer will be available on a 24-hour basis to help in what Dickson said is highway interdiction, drug detection and to also help detect contraband brought in to the Ector County Detention Center, he said.
While Boomer’s addition to the unit is expected to be it for now, Dickson said that should the Ector County Sheriff’s Office decide to bring a third dog, it would be assigned exclusively to the county jail.
Dickson said he was pleased to see the sheriff’s K-9 unit revitalized after an absence of what he thinks was about three years. Having the unit around is a boon for local law enforcement, Dickson said.
“We’re excited about it,” Dickson said. “It’ll just improve the coverage. We’ll be able to double our coverage.”
Sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Duesler, who is also a veteran K-9 handler, agreed, adding that having an augmented sheriff’s K-9 unit helps in having a trained dog around when it’s needed.
“We want to have dog available seven days a week,” Duesler said.
Kevin Sheldahl, owner of K-9 services, said donating Boomer to the unit run by Dickson was one of the best moves he’s made because of Dickson’s 30-year experience in handling dogs trained for public safety.
Sheldahl is a retired Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy, Dickson said.
“I’ve known Richard a little too long,” Sheldahl said. “I know who (Boomer) is going to. That’s important to me.”
“(Boomer) is a very powerful dog,” Sheldahl continued. “I’m kind of up to my neck in dogs. I’m happy to see him go to Richard.”
The police dogs would be used by other law enforcement agencies in times of a public safety event that would involve the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and others, Dickson said.
“It’s an asset to the entire community,” Dickson said of the sheriff’s K-9 unit. “We even make ourselves available to outside agencies.”
Dickson and Duesler both agree that the presence of trained police dogs like Boomer could go toward dissuading suspects from committing more crime or persuade them into complying with law enforcement commands.
“It’s almost become an essential (tool) for every agency to have that,” Dickson said in reference to a K-9 unit. “Our goal is not to have (the dogs) bite anybody.”