Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources has a new gadget in their arsenal — a Garmin DriveTrack 70, a GPS tracking device that allows DNR rangers to track the K-9 units.
The DriveTrack 70 syncs with other compatible accessories to help track and retrieve dogs in the field, according to Garmin’s website. The device displays a map, and with the use of a collar on the dog, displays the location and vitals of each one.
According to Sergeant Phillip Scott of DNR, the GPS tracker lays a track wherever the K-9 goes, and allows the DNR handler to view it on a map. The tool, Scott said, would also assist rangers in finding lost or injured hunters, children, dementia patients or others lost in large, wooded areas.
“This tool would have helped us since its development a few years ago,” Scott said. “We became aware of its potential on a K-9 call where our K-9 officer, Ranger First Class Jack Thain, saw this GPS tracker in use. The unit may also help other K-9 handlers and be a tool during training events.” Thain said that the plan is to utilize the unit in training sessions, to familiarize himself, and to practice with it.
“The best way to learn is to use it,” Thain said. “It will probably become one of our largest training tools at this point.”
The generous donor of the Garmin unit was James Yount, a local business owner in Richmond Hill. Yount and others hosted a luncheon for local game wardens, Scott said. DNR approached Yount for assistance in acquiring the device after they saw it in use, and Yount took it upon himself and delivered the tracker, Scott continued. The entirety of the donation included a collar, handheld tracking device, and a mountable screen for vehicles, Thain said.
“At the end of the event we asked the officers if they ever have a need to please let us know,” Yount said. “Several weeks later they reached out to me and asked if we would be willing to support with providing some critical equipment. We saw this as an excellent opportunity to support a worthy cause.”
“It is a great thing to have the support of citizens in the community,” Scott said. “Our core values are trust, fairness and professionalism, and we strive to make these core values a real part of our work ethic. We work hard to have and build community support, and it speaks volumes to us to know we have support behind us.”