Meet HCSO K-9 Handler Hunter Kearns

Deputy Hunter Kearns with his K-9 partner Rugar. (Submitted photo/Nicki Hunt)

Deputy Hunter Kearns with his K-9 partner Rugar. (Submitted photo/Nicki Hunt)

Deputy Hunter Kearns has been employed by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office for the past 3 ½ years. He serves as a road patrol officer, and has recently been working as a K-9 handler for the past six months.

Deputy Kearns attended Southwest Florida Public Service Academy in 2012 and is a Certified Law Enforcement Officer. He is also certified in Corrections.

Kearns always knew he wanted to work in the public service field. He enjoys the daily interaction with people who are in need of assistance, and being a law enforcement officer fulfills that goal.

One of Kearns’ favorite parts about his job is “knowing that he helps people on their worst days and attempts to make it better”. Not all days are perfect, and he has seen his fair share of negative situations. However, it is the good stuff that makes him wake up each day and put on his uniform. A very memorable moment for Kearns is when he and a partner pulled a guy from a burning building. Just another day on the job – helping the good guys and chasing the bad ones.

Although he is not a local, Deputy Kearns enjoys talking with Hendry County’s kids and teaching them that they do not need to be scared of the cops. Sadly, he sees this all too often. He wants children and adults to understand that cops are here to help. He said, “in today’s world many kids think that if they see the cops they have to be scared” and “it doesn’t matter where he is, if he sees kids out riding on their bikes he will stop and see what’s up.” His hopes are that this positive interaction will show the community that his number one goal is to “protect and to serve”.

Deputy Kearns also enjoys going into the schools and giving K-9 presentations to the kids. The children get to watch the K-9 handler and his dog perform search and attack scenarios. He said that “the kids always ask about the dogs,” and he loves how these ‘furry officers’ really peek their interest.

His K-9 partner, Rugar, is not one of the dogs who can be petted because he is considered a ‘bite dog’ who is trained to take commands and assist the officers. He enjoys explaining to the students that his dog is just like an officer with a very important job– he is not a pet.

Kearns appreciates working in the small town of LaBelle. He gets to be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to this job which means he gets to investigate, take evidence, run his dog when needed and much more. This allows him to see most of the emergency calls he receives from the beginning to the end. In a larger county, he wouldn’t get to engage in quite as many facets of the job.

Although being a law enforcement officer is a lot of hard work, Deputy Kearns truly enjoys what he does. He is proud to be a part of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Handler family, and looks forward to what the future has to hold.

With the ongoing news coverage of police shootings in this nation and the negative attitude toward the police nationwide, the staff of the Caloosa Belle has decided to show our support to the men and women of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department who protect us every day. In the following weeks we will be introducing you to them and letting you know what they do to keep you safe every day.

Amanda can be reached at

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