My name is Paul Bunker, Principal of Chiron K9, LLC, a canine consulting and training company based in San Antonio, Texas, USA. However, I am originally from the United Kingdom and served 22 years in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) as a dog trainer.
After retiring from the British Army, I was asked to establish a specialized detection dog program for the US Military. After seven years, I joined a commercial canine company and went from Project Manager to Program Manager and finally Director of the school.
In 2017 I decided I had enough of the commercial dog services world and started Chiron K9. The company name came from the cap badge of the RAVC, which, as its centerpiece, has an image of Chiron. Chiron was the name of a Centaur, a figure from Greek mythology that was half man, half beast. But Chiron was different from the unruly and partygoers of his brethren. He was the wisest and most just of the centaurs, nurturing with skills in medicine, music, archery, hunting, and prophecy. He was said to be the discoverer of botany and pharmacy and the science of medicine and herbs. So, the image I had served with for 22 years was now my company name, and the teaching and guiding nature of Chiron blended with my ethos and mission.
It had always been my desire to train and handle dogs for conservation and environmental detection projects, and from the very start, that was the focus of my company. Also, I love canine research in detection capabilities and wanted to be involved with the science side of training. Chiron K9 has scientific research, conservation, and environmental contracts, which means I get to do what I love and pay the bills.
I have two personal detection dogs, Nika and female Lab and Poppy (named after the remembrance flower), an English Springer Spaniel. I also train dogs for projects, and they are either already with their family or are paired with handlers after training.
I have been able to work on projects such as Texas Horned Lizard detection, Wyoming Toad (critically endangered) detection, support bat carcass, and avian detection, snake detection, and recently awarded a research project supporting the detection of mussel veliger’s in water sources and comparing results to eDNA.
I have been a member of WILDLABS for a couple of years, and when I saw they need a group manager for the conservation dog community, I quickly volunteered. I hope we can grow the community and become a focal point for everyone interested in dog detection in conservation.
I would like the group to be a place where people can ask questions and get objective and informative support. If that’s resolving a training issue, developing a new program, or requesting information on deployments, anything that is conservation dog-related, this should be the community to reach out to.
Please contact me with your ideas, but some ideas I would like to get started are virtual meetings with short showcases by members of their projects, discussions of the potential use of conservation canines in projects, technical advice, and question & answer sessions.