HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Hot Springs National Park) - A two-year-old German Shepherd named Saki has donned a badge and joined the Hot Springs National Park law enforcement ranger division to patrol the park and protect its resources.
Saki and his canine handler, Ranger Clint Forte, recently graduated from canine training and begun patrolling this week. Forte, a 6-year-veteran of the National Park Service, grew up with German Shepherd dogs as family pets and his responsibilities will include caring for Saki on and off-duty.
"We have been working for over a year to establish this program," said Chief Ranger John Hughes, who added that Saki is trained on narcotic detection, offender tracking and apprehension, building searches, and locating evidence.
The Hot Springs National Park's K-9 Unit will be responsible for assisting in the detection and seizure of all forms of controlled substances and contraband in addition to their routine patrol duties.
According to Hughes, while the K-9 Team's primary responsibilities are the safe apprehension of serious criminal offenders, search for missing persons and protection of the public and park resources, the dog will be for good public relations too.
"Our goal is to also showcase our K-9 unit in demonstrations, exhibitions, and special events," he said. "Saki is very friendly and good with young children and his presence out and about will stimulate conversation and serve as a link between our law enforcement officers and all visitors."