SPECIAL REPORT: K9 Unit Behind the Scenes - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: K9 Unit Behind the Scenes

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WHITEHOUSE (KYTX) - During a drug bust or a manhunt, all kinds of law enforcement officers work together to keep us safe. You may not know that some of the most vital officers on these scenes are K9 units.

CBS 19's Courtney Friedman got to spend time with an amazing dog and the officer he works with. Each K9 officer works hand in hand with only one other officer. It's the special bond between these dogs and their handlers, that keeps them so sharp. 

Everyone around town knows Whitehouse Police Officer Kevin Bisnette, not just because he dons a uniform, but because no matter where he goes, he's got a  popular companion: his partner and best friend Vox.

"I'm actually with him more than I'm with my family. It's like having another kid. You take care of him just like you would another normal kid and he's the same way. He goes with me everywhere I go," Bisnette says.

Bisnette and Vox have been inseparable since 2010 when they united at a training camp.

"We went and trained in Louisiana for a month and a half."

At these training camps, officers work with many dogs to see which one they get along with best.

"He kind of picked me!" Bisnette says. "Like from the first day he was real attached to me."

That connection is what lets Bisnette know Vox has his back.

"Every time I stop a car he'll sit up in the kennel and he sits and watches me. I also have a button I can hit and it will open that door to where he can come out and help me if someone tries to attack."

Protecting Bisnette is one of Vox's many jobs.

"Vox is what's called a patrol dog. He can do the building searches, like if we have somebody who is in a building that has a weapon and I don't want to send an officer in there, I can send Vox in there and he'll go get him. He does the tracking, he can track for lost persons or suspects, he does the narcotics," Bisnette says.

Vox does narcotics searches every day for all kids of drugs: marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, meth and more.

So how is he trained to find all of these? It's all about a little PVC pipe.

"It's based off of a reward system," Bisnette says. "When you start out you put the toy or reward wherever the narcotics are so whenever he smells that specific odor, he thinks he's finding that reward. You build it up to eventually, he searches for it on his own."

Another big part of Vox's job is tracking and apprehension.

"Apprehension work is going to be for someone we know is an armed threat. We'll track them until we get to him, and that's kind of his way of disarming him to keep him from hurting me or any other officer before we get up there," Bisnette says.

Apprehension training is done with a padded sleeve. Vox charges the person in the sleeve and releases as soon as Bisnette says so. It doesn't hurt the person in the sleeve. They even let Courtney try it!

"He's not an aggressive dog at all," Bisnette says. "He can turn it off and on. He can go from biting someone to laying down and letting 35 kids pet him. It's real easy for him."

At home Bisnette's three young children treat Vox like a brother.

"He is part of my family. I love him just like he's one of the kids," he says.

That love and undying trust make Bisnette and Vox a true force to be reckoned with.  Their uniforms represent a responsibility of bravery, dedication, and sometimes sacrifice; but no matter what danger they face, these two officers know they'll never have to face it alone. 

Not every K9 unit can do what Vox does. Some dogs can only track, and some can only do narcotics work. It all depends on their personality. Many K9 teams in the area train together for about 8 hours every week so that when something big happens in  our region, they can all work in unison.


Smith County Sheriff's Department, DPS, and Tyler, Troup, and Arp Police Departments all have K9 units.

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