Last week, K9 Nala was abruptly taken out of service by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a minor non-aggressive nipping incident that Trooper Chris Garcia responsibly reported out of abundance of caution and in adherence to policy. Trooper Garcia is now fighting tirelessly against a bureaucratic system and stonewalling by the state agency he has devoted his life to in order to be reunited with Nala.
Approximately a week after Garcia’s reporting of Nala’s first incident in two years of service, documenting the minor case of nipping while being pet, Trooper Garcia was told directly, by his Lieutenant and Captain, that the department’s Canine Coordinator advised them they were NOT looking to take away Nala. However, in an abrupt reversal, more than a month after the incident, without NHP doing any investigation or interviews of the individuals involved, Garcia was advised by an NHP Major that the department was removing Nala from service and placing her out for adoption. Defying reason and going against established precedents of partners being able to adopt their K9’s in the past, Trooper Garcia’s multiple requests to purchase or adopt Nala have been denied without explanation.
In a heartbreaking moment on January 17, 2024 Garcia was ordered to meet halfway between his Ely, Nevada duty station and Las Vegas to surrender K9 Nala. Trooper Garcia has begged and pleaded with his agency for the opportunity to adopt, or pay out of pocket for Nala, requesting any further action be postponed pending a requested meeting with the Chief’s office and the Office of the Director. Those meetings have never been granted, but rather his Sergeant informed him that, despite a well written email, they’re not postponing anything.
Thankfully, Nala’s location is known. She was questionably taken to Slade Weber, of Desired K9 Training, in Las Vegas. Online research reveals what appears to be some type of relationship between Slade Weber and NHP Lieutenant Colonel Martin Mleczko. Posts with the two posing together in a picture on Weber’s social media, as well as Slade Weber liking numerous posts from Mleczko on LinkedIn indicates a documented history. It is also noted that Weber’s Desired K9 Training instagram account indicates he specializes in puppy training, basic obedience and protection dogs , and yet, fails to mention any training for narcotics detection canines, making Nala’s placement with Weber a very peculiar choice indeed. From Garcia’s perspective this whole thing screams that of an alleged sweetheart or backdoor deal. It should be noted canines such as Nala potentially fetch thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, having cost the NHP a significant sum to purchase and have her trained.
The next day, Thursday January 18, 2024 Trooper Garcia called Desired K9 Training and spoke directly with Slade Weber, introducing himself, checking on Nala, and confirming he did in fact have her. Garcia also told Weber of his desire to adopt K9 Nala. To Garcia’s relief, Weber fully agreed. During an approximately 18 minute casual and friendly conversation, Garcia confirmed the adoption was 100% good to go, as Weber said, “Yep she’s your dog.” Garcia and his loved ones celebrated this news and were set to travel to Las Vegas the following day to pick her up.
Approximately 3 hours later, the Garcia family’s world was turned upside down yet again when Weber called back, this time saying he was going back on his word and couldn’t move forward with the adoption, claiming liability. Trooper Garcia told him he had already told his whole family she is coming home and now he is going to have to rip this bandaid off a second time and break this news. Weber said rip the bandaid off, but his answer was no. During the conversation, Garcia also offered to sign any waiver of liability, to pay for additional training from Weber’s Desired K9 Training courses, and offered to purchase Nala with Weber naming his price. But still the answer was no. Garcia tried to reach out to Weber again later that night and the following day, receiving no answers to texts or calls.
Trooper Garcia and K9 Nala quickly developed a very close bond from the day they met. Being together day in and day out, on duty and off duty, for over two years, they have both become very attached to each other. Nala is often referred to as a “Daddy’s Girl”, and Trooper Garcia took the K9 position with the expectation to work her entire working life together and for her to retire at home with him where she belongs. Trooper Garcia is devastated and heartbroken at having her torn away from his care. Bringing attention to the way this situation was handled is important and necessary, despite the threat of retaliation from the department. But what Trooper Garcia is most concerned with is the well being of Nala. Please help share and spread the word to help this situation be resolved with the handler and his K9 being reunited. Please help Trooper Garcia rescue his K9 partner, Nala.
Garcia has already sent an email to his entire chain of command from his Sergeant all the way up to the Director of the Department of Public Safety and has received no response. Trooper Garcia also reached out to Pete Goicoechea, who reportedly reached out to the NHP director directly, as well as the Governor’s office. While other canine units have remained in service after a nip, Nala was denied opportunity to go through retraining and is being denied the same opportunity to be adopted by her handler and primary caretaker.
Contact the Director of Nevada Department of Public Safety George Togliatti
Send an email to: email@example.com
Send cards and letters to: NHP Headquarters 555 Wright Way Carson City, NV 89711. Or call (775) 684-4901.
Contact Slade Weber owner/operator of Desired K9 Training.nSend an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or call (702) 858-8701
Tell them you support returning Nala to Trooper Garcia.