The Oklahoma Department of Corrections Canine Program supports the agency's 25 facilities with specially trained dogs for use in contraband detection, fugitive apprehension and area law enforcement assistance.
Housed at the Washita Valley Correctional Complex in Pauls Valley, the Canine Program consists of 15 dogs of German shepherd, Belgian Malinois and redbone coonhound/bloodhound breeds (as well as one mixed breed) and their handlers.
The unit plays a key role in reducing contraband inside ODOC facilities, discouraging escapes and improving cooperation with other agencies.
Canine handlers must be eligible to register with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
When applying to be canine handlers, staff must be at least Correctional Security Officer IV or eligible for promotion to that level.
ODOC trains tracking dogs (either leash dogs or pack dogs) in human odor recognition to help in finding escapees and assisting other law enforcement agencies.
ODOC trains narcotic detector dogs in finding illegal drugs and contraband and for assisting outside agencies. All teams must successfully complete the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training's canine certification program.
Cellphone-detecting canines are trained to locate communication devices by noticing the gases the phones emit.
Care, Housing and Transportation
ODOC guidelines require that dogs, their kennels and equipment be regularly inspected for health, maintenance issues and animal welfare. Additionally, maintenance should be performed to keep up kennel grounds, control pests, ensure animals have proper shelter and ventilation, and temperature control. All animals must have convenient to food and fresh water daily.
Vehicles transporting the animals must have proper ventilation and adequate space for an enclosure to contain the animals, allowing them enough space to stand up and turn around freely. They also must be properly secured. Animals may not be allowed to roam free inside the passenger area of a vehicle.
ODOC uses local, licensed veterinarians for canine care, including annual vaccinations, checkups, parasite control and other necessities.
Staff record all daily activities with the dogs, including operations, training and veterinary care, in activity logs.