PHOENIX -- Sheriff's deputies in Cochise County have a few new partners to aid them in their fight against crime.
The office announced the creation of a K-9 unit and the department now has four dogs assisting deputies.
"Sheriff (Mark) Dannels decided that it would be a good time, there was funding that he was able to procure from a private donor and we were able to get three other dogs," Carol Capas, public information officer with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office said. "So we now have a total of four dogs in the K-9 unit."
Since 2009, Capas said the Cochise County Sheriff's Office has had only one dog, an 8-year-old named Vinny, and that made it difficult if a deputy needed K-9 assistance.
"Being in Cochise County, we're a border county with the United States and Mexico so if we needed to have an animal assist for anything...we would have to contact the Arizona Department of Corrections or Border Patrol to see if they had a K-9," Capas said. "Now we have four units that are strategically placed throughout Cochise County."
Two of the new dogs, 15-month-old Henry and 20-month-old Marco, graduated from their training courses in October and are now in service for the county. The newest member is 15-month-old Noby, who graduated in November.
The new units are already having an impact, Capas said.
"They're very well worth it. We've been fortunate so far to have two of the newest members actually have seizures of $10,000 each, in cash."
Seeing an immediate return from the units is an added benefit from the county's steep investment, Capas said.
"They are expensive, the cost of the K-9 itself is approximately $10,000 (to) $11,000 dollars. Then the maintenance of them, to include the veterinarian and then the food and shelter, and those types of things, again is approximately another $10,000 a year."
Also included in the cost of using K-9 units are changes to vehicles to make them safe for the dogs and the handler, as well as other equipment like ballistic vests, which can run tabs of over $1,000 each.
Currently, only the veteran Vinny has a vest, but Capas said Noby will soon be outfitted with one thanks to another donation.
So far, Capas said CCSO has spent about $140,000 on their K-9s, and they hope to add two more dogs in this coming year.
With over 6,200 square miles to cover, Capas said having four service dogs helps make their office more independent and less reliable on other resources.
"Now we have the capability of calling (K-9s) out and having a better timeline, and knowing that we can count on our own resources versus having to tax an outside agency's resources to assist us in doing our duties," she said.