Sniffing out drugs is a thing of the past for 7-year-old Lara.
The Belgian Malinois who served as the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office’s first narcotics K-9 hung up her leash July 27. Lara’s first day on the job was Dec. 27, 2015.
Lara had roughly 400 field runs during her career, Sgt. Marc Parsons said.
Parsons, who’s been with the CCSO since 2013, was Lara’s handler. Now, she will retire at his home and enjoy the company of what Parsons calls Lara’s best friend — a 5-year-old German Shepard named Barrett.
He said his four-legged companion is retiring based on the recommendation of her veterinarian.
“Health-wise, they said if she continued working it could possibly take some off her lifespan,” Parsons said while adding she was “showing signs of arthritis at an earlier age.”
Parsons, a CCSO Drug Enforcement Unit sergeant, said Lara’s retirement age is “pretty average” among other law enforcement K-9s.
“It really just varies on their health,” he said. “I’ve known some dogs that have only worked three years. I’ve known some dogs that have worked nine years, 10 years. It kind of just depends on their health.”
Parsons said every agency in Cooke County has used the narcotics trained K-9 throughout her career. Agencies in Montague, Grayson and Denton counties have called on Lara for help as well, he said.
“There [were] numerous different occasions where she got substantial amounts of drugs off the streets that she located on traffic stops,” Parsons said.
He recalled what he described as their “first bigger bust,” which occurred about a month after the two began hitting the road together.
“We got a couple ounces of heroin and some guns and some meth,” Parsons said.
Lara also saves law enforcement officers time.
“If there’s no K-9 alert there’s no reason to search,” Parsons said.
Although traffic stops were plentiful, Parsons said his most memorable moment with Lara was taking part in a K-9 competition outside of Austin about two years ago.
Parsons said 40 teams participated in the statewide event.
“We ran through over a dozen small rooms that did or didn’t have drugs inside of them,” Parsons said.
He said competing at the event was one of the best times he has ever had with his furry friend.
“We had never done a K-9 competition before,” Parsons said. The duo placed 24th.
While Lara may no longer be alerting on vehicles, the K-9 unit established by Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert will continue. Parsons is expected to get a new partner in crime soon. Members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court agreed Monday, Aug. 10, to allow the law enforcement agency to purchase another K-9.
As for Lara, she’s adjusting to her new life, Parsons said.
“She went to the lake last weekend, went out on the boat,” he said. “She gets to be a normal dog.”