Sep 10, 2013 10:18 PM by Lupita Murillo
TUCSON - The Border Patrol K-9 teams are facing budget cuts due to the government sequestration. According to Art Del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol Union Local 2544, "These great assets that are apprehending people, seizing money and drugs are now being kenneled, until the next fiscal year."
He says the agents, get extra pay for taking care of their four legged partners, and it's that money that is running out. He blames budget cuts and sequestration. "These agents that are trained they can't keep their dogs at home if they hit a certain cap they remove the dogs from them."
The president of local 2544, says this program is successful, here in the Tucson sector considered to be the busiest for seizing drugs the K-9 unit is responsible for 98% of the drug seizures.
Bella is a 6 ½ year old Belgian Malinois. Her nose has detected over 9000 pounds of marijuana, over five pounds of Heroin, 13 pounds of Methamphetamine. She's assisted in arresting 100 people.
The dogs thrive when they're working. Del Cueto says "Those traits are diminished and it's been proven they get diminished when you kennel a dog for a significant amount of time."
Some agents have offered to keep the dogs for free, but legally they can't. Del Cueto adds, " They care about the program but obviously someone in Washington doesn't care enough. They're not giving our managers, our agents, our agency the proper tools to continue this job."
The new fiscal year starts in October and agents are hoping they'll be able to keep their four legged partners, so they can continue to protect our border.
In a statement, Customs and Border Protection say "Currently less than 1.5% of the Tucson Sector's Border Patrol K-9 teams have been kenneled in order to avoid exceeding internal budget limits which is a common practice and not related to sequestration."