Thanks to Shannon and David Farrell, Sandoval County Fire and Rescue has a roster of K-9 officers who are working to help citizens.
The Farrells own seven dogs — four are certified, and three are in training — who work for the county and help with rescues, tracking, disaster and much more.
Shannon Farrell, who works as a lieutenant and in Public Health and Safety Outreach for Fire and Rescue, has been training dogs for 12 years with the help of her husband David, who works as a computer engineer but volunteers at Fire and Rescue.
All seven dogs live, work and train with the Farrells. The Observer had the opportunity to get to know some of these brave dogs Friday afternoon at Fire Station 21 in Bernalillo.
Ginger Snap is a Malinois who is 5 months old. Ginger Snap isn’t certified yet as she is going through a tryout of sorts.
“She seems like she has the drive to do this, but we’re going to have to see,” Shannon said. “We’re just doing basic obedience exposure type stuff.”
If Ginger Snap doesn’t work out as an officer, the Farrells would have to find her a home.
“It’s hard to let go, but we’ve got a lot of dogs and it’s not fair to them,” Shannon said. “I’m sure a lot of people would want Ginger, so she’ll find a home if she doesn’t work out. But I think everything is pointing up towards her working out. She’s not worried about her environment, and that’s one of the things we look for in a young puppy.”
Shamus is a 5-year-old German shepard who is certified in human remains.
“Shamus is our biggest dog; he’s like a black and tan dog,” Shannon said. “He’s just very sweet. All of them have energy and want to jump on you, but that’s what we want. We want those dogs with that energy.”
KT is certified in human remains, air scent, finding somebody alive and disaster.
“KT is a little bossy,” Shannon said. “She’s very independent.”
Mini is a 4-year-old Malinois.
“She’s super sweet and she’s very tiny; that’s why her name is Mini,” Shannon said. “She looks like she’s scared, but she’s not. As soon as it’s time to search, that dog won’t stop searching. She’s a sweetie.”
Greta is a 15-month-old German shepard who is working on tracking and recently took part in a two-day training session in Las Cruces with a master trainer.
“Greta isn’t super lovey-dovey, sort of like KT,” Shannon said. “Those two are are more business; they’re out there to do a job. Greta is a superstar, she was incredible (in Las Cruces).”
Greta is still training but could be certified this year.
Pipi and JJ are also on the team at Fire Station 21 but had prior obligations Friday.
Pipi, a 5-year-old German shepard, is in a similar place in training as Greta.
JJ, a 6-year-old German shepard, is certified in light flying air scent, which is very useful in helping find lost individuals.
“JJ is just this big dumb, like love,” Shannon Farrell said. “He’s just super nice.”