Forest Service Looks To Dogs To Protect Officers

NORTH IDAHO — The U.S. Forest Service is adding a few new four-legged friends to its ranks. The Forest Service is training two German Shepard’s to help law enforcement officers as they patrol millions of acres throughout north Idaho and Montana.

“What’s that over there?,” said Officer Don Denison to his dog Kaliber.

An ounce of marijuana was hidden somewhere inside one of forest service’s buildings, two year old Kaliber was on a mission to find it.

“Go on, find the dope, find the dope,” Don instructed.

In less than a minute Kaliber sat down, a sign the he found the drugs.

Kaliber and his fellow companion Nero train for every scenario an officer with the U.S. Forest Service may encounter when out in the woods.

From confrontations, to catching suspects who just won’t stop, these dogs are prepared for most anything.

“We have drug gardens, we have issues, we have problems, we have people that are there that have warrants and we run into folks who are hiding,” said Officer Kayla Jaquith.

Officer Jaquith works in the Bitterroot National Forest, her closest back up is often hours away.

“They will protect you with everything you’ve got, everything they’ve got,” she said. “It’s a very special relationship.”

The dogs’ training emphasizes officer protection for that very reason.

“It makes me feel a little bit safer because I am out there by myself,” said Denison.

Jaquith has worked with K-9’s for nearly a decade.

“We are his pack, and he is my best friend,” she said. “When we are out there he changes the whole dynamic of the situation for me.”

In the past year alone there have been four homicides on forest service land, including the murders of Cynthia Bewick and Neil Howard near Dobson Pass in Idaho’s Silver Valley.

“That’s a huge number for homicide’s on national forest land,” said Denison. “We’ve never seen that in previous years.”

It’s facts like these that make the need for Kaliber and Nero even greater.

“I see the crimes going out to the forest and it bothers me,” said Denison. “That’s where people like to get away from phones and crime and people should feel safe in the national forest.”