ARANSAS COUNTY, Texas – On Sept. 1, 2018 in an area just north of Holiday Beach in Aransas County, two highly valued canines were destroyed by individuals believed to be in this country illegally. The two tracking dogs were a part of a kennel belonging to Joe Braman from Refugio County that have in the past been instrumental in locating individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s that wondered away from their homes.

The dogs were deployed to assist Aransas and Refugio County Deputies, DPS Troopers and a large contingent of Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens who had responded to assist in apprehending a group believed to number 14-16 that fled on foot from a black Ford Truck. The incident started with an attempted traffic stop of a north bound vehicle who at one point appeared to be stopping, only to take off at a high rate of speed till it left the roadway traveling through a fence line and proceeding east bound from Highway 35 till it stopped at the brush line where all occupants left the vehicle. When responding support arrived, all occupants had scattered on foot in the heavily brushed area. Rufugio County offered a canine unit to assist; they brought tracking dogs that were non aggressive, non-bite trained. We have used canines like these to ensure safety of individuals in events like this. We have other well-trained canine units that can defend themselves, but we consciously avoid deploying them off leash in environments like this.

With handlers on horseback and Officers on foot, the law enforcement team soon located and detained 3 individuals after United States Border Patrol verified the immigration status as questionable. As the search continued and moved about a very large area, three more individuals were detected in a heavy thicket with two surrendering quickly and a third responded to demands to come out in Spanish telling officers “if you want me, come and get me”. It was at that time in this same area two canines were found dead from apparent strangulation. The collars carrying trackers had been twisted tightly about their necks causing their deaths. After the sixth individual who it is believed was responsible for the canine deaths, was detained and interviewed by U.S. Border Patrol Officials it was determined they had come from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. All six individuals, five males and one female were transported to the Aransas County Detention Center where they were picked up by U.S. Customs and Immigration Officials. While not yet confirmed one of the males detained for U.S. Customs and Immigration was seen wearing ink of a tattoo known to show Cartel affiliation.

While most “Bail Outs” end with detentions after exhaustive searches they do not show this level of aggressive behavior. Serving as a reminder to officers yesterday afternoon that while we are still dealing with individuals who may have questionable immigration status these encounters can turn just as violent as any domestic dispute we respond to. And while every effort is being taken to insure everyone’s safety, we are reminded that not everyone we encounter shows the same level of respect for the rule of law and or life even for highly trained animals. It was an afternoon that left me wondering how many lives of Dementia and Alzheimer’s individuals in the future may have been put at risk with the deaths of these two Canines.