TR’s Top Dog: Bato joins Three Rivers police as community’s canine officer

Three Rivers Police Officer A.J. Cuellar will work with Bato, who was sworn in for duty on Nov. 19. Mayor Felipe Martinez, pictured at right, was a strong supporter of the police department getting a canine unit.

By Jeff Osborne

Progress staff

THREE RIVERS – There’s a new top dog in town, as Bato joined the Three Rivers Police Department as the agency’s canine officer after being sworn in for duty on Nov. 19.

Officer A.J. Cuellar will work as Bato’s partner and the duo are already making a positive impact in the community, Three Rivers Police Chief Vance Roberts said.

“We’re excited to have Bato join us, and I feel pretty confident we’ll do good things with Bato and Officer Cuellar working together,” Roberts said.

The chief noted that during training exercises, Bato alerted on all the hidden items that were stashed in various places “and he hasn’t given a false alert.”

Bato came from Hill Country Dog Center and is a year and a half old.

Roberts credited Mayor Felipe Martinez with being the driving force in getting Bato for the police department.

“The mayor took office in May and approached me about getting a canine for the department,” Roberts said. “The mayor then took the matter to the City Council, and they voted in favor of it.”

Roberts said the department appears to have gotten a great asset in Bato.

“He graduated at the top of his class and has a good nose on him,” Roberts said. “In addition to alerting when there was narcotics hidden nearby, Bato has alerted on currency, as well. Last week, our office was able to seize $11,800 in U.S. currency.

“That’s not a huge amount, but if we continue to hit on similar amounts, it will help fund our department’s efforts to fight drug problems in our community.”

Stopping the flow of narcotics through Three Rivers and Live Oak County is a prime goal of the department, Roberts said.

“We have a large amount of narcotics traveling through the area and we hope we can put a squash on that,” he said. “Highway 281 is definitely a pipeline through our community for narcotic traffic.

Narcotics that Bato is training to find include cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, marijuana and hemp.

“We have a lot of faith in our officers and our canine unit to make a dent in that type of crime.”

Bato will also be a frequent visitor to Three Rivers schools

“We’re excited and looking to a good working relationship,” Roberts said.

In addition to being able to find hidden narcotics and cash, Bato can also help find missing people.

“He is a dual purpose dog — he’s also a tracking dog,” Roberts said. “If someone is missing, Bato can help find them.”

Officer Cullear said he is looking forward to partnering with Bato.

“I’m excited,” he said. “The other day I went to training with him and everything went great.”

Roberts said this is the first time in eight or nine years the Three Rivers Police Department has had a canine unit.

City Administrator Thomas Salazar said he is also looking forward to great things from Bato.

“Watching him work is amazing,” Salazar said.”We have a lot of great things going on with the city, and Bato is definitely a strong example of that.”

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. He can be reached at 361-786-3022 or theprogress@mysoutex.com.