ATWATER — Fifteen narcotics units used the former Castle Air Force Base on Friday for the certification of about half of their teams of officers and K-9s.
Merced County sheriff's deputy Mark Taylor said seven teams each made up of a handler and a dog showed their skills at finding and bringing down assailants, while one tested its ability at bomb detection.
Taylor also certifies drug-sniffing dogs.
"(For) the narcotics dogs, it's a 100 percent pass or fail," he said. "It's the same thing for the bomb dogs."
Taylor said the same standard applies to patrol dogs, which find and tackle assailants. Any team that fails a single test needs further training before it can try again to get certified.
"It's very important that the dogs pass all of their tests within their own discipline," Taylor said. "There's no room for failure in the bomb world."
Taylor is a certifying official for the California Narcotic Canine Association, which certifies dogs in drug and bomb sniffing. The association added patrol certification this year.
Teams from Elk Grove, Fresno, Coalinga and other Central Valley areas tested their mettle.
Each department has its own policy, Taylor said, adding that many teams recertify once or twice a year.
Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said the event gave Merced some visibility in K-9 circles.
"It really puts Merced County on the map as far as training and certification purposes," Pazin said.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.