While the new member of the Tahoe-Douglas bomb squad comes with four legs and a tail, it’s what’s on the pointy end that makes him a critical member of the team.
On Friday, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District announced that Tracker, a Hungarian vizsla, is the new K-9 with the Tahoe Douglas Explosive Ordinance Disposal team.
Described as athletic, agile and light on his feet, Tracker is a robust hunting dog that needs vigorous daily exercise and lots of personal attention.
“The breed is sometimes referred to as the 'Velcro Vizsla' for its need to be in close proximity to his human companion, which Tracker frequently demonstrates by leaning his cheek into Fire Inspector Chris Rowlett’s leg, keeping close tabs on him and their surroundings,” according to the district.
Tracker follows in the paw prints of Gunner, a brown Labrador rescue, who retired last year after five years.
With the return of special events and the new event center under construction at Stateline, Fire Chief Scott Lindgren recognized the need to bring the program back to the district.
With the help of the Northern Nevada Explosive Detection Canine teams, Rowlett began researching programs.
He located a handler and canine training program (Ford K9) which had a fully trained dog immediately available. Within days, he began the 120-hour handler program.
Rowlett and Tracker bonded quickly, a necessity for success as a team. A bonus is that the dog’s exercise and attention needs are easily met in the Rowlett household with four young boys.
Tracker can detect 14 explosive scents, commonly found in commercial and homemade explosives.
“With the growing threat of terrorist attacks, we are seeing a dramatic increase in EOD sweep requests,” said bomb squad Commander Capt. Will Darr. "Explosive Detection Canine resources are limited in our region during the political and special event seasons. Having an additional resource at TDFPD will allow us the chance to give back to the task force and continue to be responsive to our community needs."
Rowlett and Tracker are certified in California and Nevada and must participate in 16 hours of training every month to maintain that certification. Tracker is the fourth canine resource in the Northern Nevada Bomb Technicians Task Force joining the working dogs from UNR and Reno police departments.
In Northern Nevada, sweeps are requested for political, sporting and entertainment events where a large number of participants are expected to attend.
Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad is one of the four FBI accredited bomb squads in Nevada with a FEMA Type I classification.
It is a joint effort between the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Per agreement, the Fire District serves as the fiscal agent for the Bomb Squad which is governed by a management board consisting of the Fire Chief, Battalion Chief, and the Douglas County Sheriff and a Sheriff’s Captain.