CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia is welcoming its newest members of law enforcement, and these officers are on four legs.

We know how effective K-9 units are in city police departments or country sheriff’s departments, but now they enter a new area.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) now has six K-9 officers.
Governor Jim Justice, along with Babydog, and the DNR secretary welcomed the new K-9s and their handlers. The DNR has 131 sworn officers, but they cover a lot of rugged terrain.

Officials say the dogs will be invaluable in safety education, and search and rescue operations.

“We support the hunters and fisherman in the state, and our outdoors men and women. And so if we have a lost hunter or a lost fisherman, these dogs will be trained to be able to track those individuals in a much faster fashion than the human can,” said Col. Bobby Cales, Chief of the West Virginia DNR Police.

And just like always, even Babydog got into the act. She was sworn-in as an honorary police K-9 and even got a safety vest to go with it.

The K-9’s will go through training for a few months, and then will join their partners on the road.
West Virginia has six DNR districts, so each one will have a K-9 officer. Also today, Governor Justice gave each of the human DNR officers, a $6,000 pay raise.