Memorial for Government Police K-9 Golden Retriever Austin

We recently brought you the story of Golden Austin, and now have updated information about a “Celebration of Life” memorial that will be held in Austin, TX on March 6th.



imageWhen the AKC has announced the winners of the first Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) in 2000, Golden Retriever Austin, owned by Officer Jim Minton, of Austin, Texas, was their Search and Rescue recipient.

A classic Cinderella story: A bedraggled stray is turned in to the Greater Houston Golden Retriever Club’s rescue program and, after a few twists of fate, becomes an honored search-and-rescue dog. Austin’s inspiring story culminates in his work at the site of the Texas A&M bonfire collapse that killed 12 people and injured 27 others.

According to his handler, Officer Jim Minton, Austin was one important working Golden.

Austin has been on overseas assignments three times and one trip involved us being evacuated out of the region by the U. S. Customs and DEA air wing. This was after thugs had placed a $30,000 price tag on Austin to kill or kidnap him. This is nothing unusual. Drug dogs working the border often face the very same threat.


Austin himself was found and rescued as a puppy from the woods east of Houston, Texas, by hunters. He was then turned over to a Greater Houston Golden Retriever Club’s rescue program , where Texas Hearing and Service Dogs purchased him and provided testing and training before donating him to the Austin Police Department in January 1999. Austin has since been trained to rescue people. On

October 28, 2000 Mayor Kirk Watson proclaimed that date “K-9 Austin Day” for the City of Austin. On November 11, 2000 Austin was inducted into the Texas Animal Hall of Fame.

Austin was certified in Tracking, Cadaver, and Chemical Biological Detection. After Jim retired from the Austin Police Department, where Austin was on the job from 1999 to 2004, he and Austin began working at the Federal Level specializing in Chemical-Biological Detection (2004-2008). Jim Minton, a Senior Law Enforcement K-9 Handler/Instructor and Senior K-9 Chemical-Biological Specialist for U.S. Govt. and U.S. Military Response only.


A Very Sad Ending
Police K-9 Austin died on February 16, 2008 in his loving handler’s arms. He had been rushed into emergency surgery due to having developed bloat, and managed to survive the procedure. However, shortly after waking up his vitals deteriorated and as Jim so desolately said:

Austin looked at me, wide awake and alert, took a deep breath, exhaled, laid his head down, I kissed him, monitors started sounding, and Austin left this cruel world.

Jim has indicated that there will be a special police K-9 memorial service for this 10-11 year old hero. And, he shared this heartfelt message with me on February 21st:

Rochelle, thank you so much for the kind words. I don’t know how much more of this excruciating pain I can endure. I know other people hurt just like I am when they loose a Golden. So I’m not doing the “poor me” thing. But Dammmmm this is killing me. He and I were together for more than 10 years nearly 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.

I’m sure Greg and Carrie haven’t told you, but they have been absolutely totally 100% percent sweethearts. They trusted me enough to allow their Golden “Pippy” to come home with me the night of the day Austin died. Pippy slept in bed with me and was spoiled rotten for nearly 24 hours. The only stipulation was, I had to bring her home the next day. I called the next afternoon and tried to convince Greg that they said just bring her back next year! LOL But he was too slick and caught on! (Actually my friend called for me) My voice would not work from my crying so much.) I must tell you, I had already planned on staying in a hotel room that night because the pain was just too much when I tried to go home. However, Carrie and Greg being considerate and giving as they are, allowed me to sleep in my own bed with a very loving Golden.

This was so sudden and unexpected. Running and playing just 24 hours prior to his death. I must tell you, At one time, 3 veterinarians and 7 vet techs were working on Austin all at one time. They fought to save his life for nearly 18 solid hours. You can only imagine the tremendous invoice! No big deal as I say. It’s only money. They were given unlimited financial authority and CPR was authorized during surgery of needed.

I just found out today that the U. S. Department of Defense is sending a flag that was flying in a war zone in Iraq the day Austin died. A couple of guys I helped with on some special training just prior to their deployment managed to make this happen. They both petted on Austin throughout the entire 2 weeks of training. Another flag is coming from a U. S. Embassy overseas where we were assigned for a short time on a specific assignment. In short, Austin has a following. Hell, I should have run fro President when he was around. But, even though it’s getting exciting, it does NOT bring my baby home.

You can learn more about Austin’s story at his page at our foundation’s site. Just click here.

7 thoughts on “Memorial for Government Police K-9 Golden Retriever Austin

  1. Dear sir or madam,
    my agency is trying to start a canine unit in our area. we are located near the border of Mexico on the northside by the city of Algodones Mexico and 15 minutes away from the San Luis Port of Entry. The city of somerton has a main road that leads to and from the port of entry and soon we will be annexing the second road. Our goal is to decrease the drug activity that passes through our city and increase our arrest. I would appreciate if you can help me achieve this goal our guide to acquiring this benefitial member of our police force. thank you.

  2. Sir,

    Please email me at

    I will be more than happy to assist with your endeavor. As you can imagine, we are extremely protective over K-9 policy, tactics, and response procedures. Our number one priority is the health and safety of the canine. Once I verify your position and agency I will be more than happy share information with you. Not a problem and I’m quite certain you will understand the caution we use.


    Jim Minton



    I am a School Resource/ K-9 Deputy Sheriff in the (immediate) Metro New Orleans area (Jefferson Parish). My K-9 partner is a rescued Golden from San Diego, Ca that was destined for euthanizing until subsequently narcotic trained and then donated to our dept.

    So far K-9 ROSCO and I have assisted in numerous arrest and recovery of discarded narcotics at our schools. We also have been featured on the local New Orleans TV WDSU (channel 6) under their Crimestoppers tab.

    K-9 ROSCO is nationally certified (NNDDA, NPCA) in scents associated with marijuana, meth, heroin, cocaine, and gun powders for detection in our schools.

    I am looking for financial grant assistance in purchasing K-9 transport equipment for my patrol unit. Currently he is transported in a plastic crate that does not protect him in a rear-end crash. Please let me know of any sources that may help a Police K-9 Golden Retriever.

    Sgt. Wayne Weidenbacher
    Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
    Police on Campus/ K-9

  4. Wayne, I wish I knew where such a grant could be found. Please send me some photos and I can put up a blog entry on you and your guy’s work. Maybe we can get some folks interested in helping or someone may be able to suggest an avenue for you to pursue.

  5. Jim, i was touched by your story im so sorry for your loss of Austin. i was doing a report on Golden Retrievers and i thought your story on austin was perfect! this story was exciting touching and sad i was glad to read it

  6. Hello Mr. Jim,

    I have two dogs, both of whom smell very very well in my opinion. I would LOVE to teach one or both to search. One I would like to teach to search for animals and the other seems to be eager to please enough for humans. One is a pitty and she is very relaxed and more calm in her endeavor to find the last crumb of cookie on the floor. My other girl is a bull terrier and she is more gung-ho about life and everything else. She would rather run through the bush than go around it. Both are very great with people and my pitty is perfect for searching for other pets as she does it all the time trying to play tag with the loose cats in the neighborhood. I was wondering where someone like me would get started on something like this. I would like to teach them and or at least my pit Alice. I have trained her since day one to be all that she can be and be as sweet as chocolate cream pie. She has a drive if its for a humans love or a kittens purr or even a puppies wet nose. Is there anyone that I can talk to or anything that I can do to start training her. I have noticed way too many peoples pets going missing in my area and I know that my dog could do something about if she was trained to. Thank you!

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