From the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website today:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be adding a third certified K-9 to its pilot program and it is all thanks to the generosity of NFL two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

CPW already has two K-9’s in a pilot program to see how dogs can be used for law enforcement and wildlife management. Last Thursday, Samson, an 18-month old Belgian Malinois, began his month-long training to become a certified law enforcement K-9 that will partner with Ian Petkash, wildlife officer for the Lake George District.

Petkash received a $12,000 grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund back in November when Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers played in Denver. The funds CPW received will be used to purchase and train Samson.

“This K-9 will not only aid in the apprehension of those who seek to exploit wildlife, but will also be trained in canine hard-releases on bears and mountain lions that have come into conflict with people,” Petkash said. “This non-lethal tool will serve to keep wildlife wild and keep people safe. Furthermore, the K-9 will serve as an ambassador for wildlife management to Colorado’s public. On behalf of the wildlife and the people of Colorado, I want to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for providing this opportunity.”

CPW enlisted Johnson’s K9 out of Colorado Springs to search for and purchase the dog, which was obtained from a private breeder in Texas. Johnson’s K9 will also be administering the training for Samson and Petkash.

Samson’s responsibilities will focus on assisting Petkash with law enforcement detection work as well being used as an experiment on hard-releases for bears and mountain lions.

Samson will be trained to detect the scent of nine different wildlife species – bears, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, pronghorn, trout, upland birds and waterfowl. He will also be a tool used by wildlife officers in the negative reinforcement of bears and mountain lions that CPW relocates following conflicts with people.

The other two K-9’s already enlisted in CPW’s pilot program are Sci, a Dutch Shepherd partnered since 2015 with wildlife officer Philip Gurule in Area 14, and Cash, a black Labrador partnered with wildlife officer Brock McArdle in Area 4 since 2017.

Certified with the National Police Canine Association for handler protection, fugitive apprehension and various wildlife species odor detection, Cash and Sci are working hard to help protect Colorado’s natural resources and all of those who enjoy them. Samson will help further that mission once he gets his law enforcement training completed over the course of the next month. Additional training on the bear and mountain lion hard releases will be dependent on live situational training’s throughout the springtime months.

Since CPW’s K-9 program is in a pilot stage, it relies almost entirely on public donations for funding. The funds support continual training’s for the wildlife officers and their K-9 partners, cost of food, boarding, veterinary services, maintenance and training equipment.

To support CPW’s K-9 program, please visit its GoFundMe page by clicking here.

If you’d like more information about the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation you can visit Ben’s Foundation page. For more in-depth information, please contact Jessica Duffaut at


You can help support future K-9 grants by purchasing candy on Sarris Candies’ website, (, using a special purchase code (77-7777). Sarris will donate 25 percent of the purchase price to Ben’s foundation.