BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 556

Dumont Dunes Halloween patrol a success thanks to K9 Tessa

a police dog attacks a man in a bite suit
Tessa training with Chief Ranger Chassie

The Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle area is a fee area managed by the Barstow Field Office (BAFO) that sees heavy usage during holiday weekends in the fall and winter months.  Approximately 8,200 people visited Dumont Dunes over the Halloween weekend.  Due to the high visitation, the BAFO Law Enforcement staff conducted an enhanced patrol of the Dumont Dunes area.
 
Much of the success of the weekend was due to detail Law Enforcement Ranger Ed Whitteaker and his K9, Tessa.  Tessa conducted 140 vehicle sniffs and was responsible for 28 drug citations that included marijuana, hashish, and illegal prescription pills.  Two of the vehicles that Tessa alerted on also contained guns that were being illegally carried, one of which had been reported “lost.”

In addition to her law enforcement work, Tessa was a great ambassador for the BLM throughout the weekend.  The overall interest in Tessa was tremendous and the public response was extremely positive.  Whether she was performing a vehicle sniff, on foot patrol, or just enjoying some down time, the public always took notice of Tessa.  Many people stopped to take photos of Tessa or to ask questions about Tessa and her duties.  The largest crowd of the day stopped to watch when BAFO Chief Ranger Chassie put on the “bite suit” for Tessa to get in some training. 

The BAFO has recognized the benefit of having a K9 in its mission attributes and has a long-term goal to obtain a K9 for the Field office. The BAFO Law Enforcement staff is responsible for providing patrol and enforcement activities in three OHV open areas: Johnson Valley, Stoddard and Razor OHV areas; and in two fee-collection areas: El Mirage and Dumont Dunes.  The total public land visitation for BAFO in FY 2012 was approximately 2 million persons.  As shown by Tessa’s performance and positive public perception, a K9 would be a great fit in the BAFO.

Special thanks to the Lake Havasu (Arizona) Field Office and OLES Chief Ranger Jason Caffey for allowing Tessa to work with the Barstow Rangers at Dumont.

- Patrick Chassie, Chief Ranger, BLM Barstow Field Office (November 1, 2012)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 556 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.