Trooper Fights To Adopt His K-9 Companion After Unexpected Separation

Courtesy of KOLO News Now 8

A Nevada highway patrol officer finds himself grappling with a profound sense of betrayal from his department after the abrupt separation from his cherished K-9 partner.

The emotional blow for Trooper Christopher Garcia is especially heartbreaking as it occurred just weeks after celebrating the fourth birthday of his dedicated companion, K-9 Nala.

Nala, an exceptional narcotics detection canine, had formed an inseparable bond with Trooper Garcia during their dynamic partnership spanning the last two years. The connection was particularly special as Garcia had the distinct honor of being Nala’s first handler, deepening the bond between them.

Trooper Garcia with his K-9 Nala.
Courtesy of KOLO News Now 8

“She’s a huge daddy’s girl. I just love her,” he said. “She’s part of the family. Off duty she’s with me, she’s just a big love.”

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The sudden and unexpected separation has left Trooper Garcia in a state of emotional distress, highlighting the unique and powerful relationship that often develops between K-9 officers and their human counterparts. 

K-9 Nala faced an unexpected suspension from duty by the Nevada Highway Patrol following a non-aggressive nipping incident.

In response to the incident, Trooper Garcia acted responsibly by promptly reporting it, initially receiving assurance that Nala would not be separated from him. However, the situation took a sudden turn when Garcia was later notified of a change in plans, with the disheartening news that Nala was going to be withdrawn from active service and placed for adoption.

Despite Trooper Garcia’s earnest pleas to adopt her, he was denied the opportunity. The explanation provided was that the state perceived a potential liability if he were to adopt K-9 Nala while still employed by the department.

In contrast to the experiences of previous handlers within his department who were permitted to adopt their canine partners upon retirement, Garcia was informed that this decision was irrevocable.

The directive was issued for Garcia to relinquish custody of Nala on January 17th.

“She dedicated two years of her life working for the state and I felt like she was being shuffled out the back door,” he said.

K-9 Nala
Courtesy of KOLO News Now 8

Adding to his distress, Garcia found himself reassigned to a desk job after seven years of active service. He said that he can’t help but feel betrayed.

“When I took this position, I did so with the intent to work with her for her entire working life and have her retire at home with me. She is very well taken care of and will continue to be,” Garcia said. “She did not deserve to have her world turned upside down and put in the care of someone she had never met before. If the department had no issue adopting her out or placing her somewhere, there is no better place for her to be than in her home with me.”

The NHP issued the following statement regarding the situation:

“The Nevada Department of Public Safety is aware of significant public interest in Nala, one of the department’s working canines. As with all department canines, Nala is a state-funded and highly trained member of our law enforcement family. To improve performance and ensure renewed certification, the department determined canine Nala needed remedial training and other support, including an up-to-date veterinary examination. These steps will help to ensure a long and healthy law enforcement career serving the citizens of Nevada. Canine Nala’s welfare is a priority for the department, and she remains in good health and good hands. This matter is the subject of an internal administrative review, and the Department is unable to provide any further comment or details at this time.”

The profound impact of this separation on both Trooper Garcia and his K-9 emphasizes the vital role these partnerships play in law enforcement and the complex emotions involved when such bonds are disrupted.

We wish the best of luck to both Trooper Garcia and K-9 Nala!