The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit is comprised of 24 dogs and 21 deputies/handlers. There are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois Mix, Bloodhounds and German Shorthaired Pointers. Each dog has a specialty, such as bomb or narcotics detection or fugitive apprehension. Our bloodhounds are used primarily for tracking and missing persons cases. A dog joins the Sheriff's Office when it is between 1-3 years old, and must complete 480 hours of training with its handler/deputy to be certified as a law enforcement canine. Once certified, the canine is given its own Sheriff's Office personal identification number and badge. The dogs are a treasured part of the Sheriff's Office and any law enforcement agency. To that end, state law helps protect law enforcement canines by making it a felony to injure or kill a police dog. Typically, our canines retire when they reach 9-10 years of age, at which time they become the deputy's family pet.