ATO Recognizes Billye Tezel

Assist the Officer (ATO) is honoring Billye Tezel with the Heroes’ Hero Award for her tremendous dedication in helping the Houston Police Department and its officers, particularly our K9 handlers.  Billye has dedicated her time and resources to help financially assist the K9 Division of HPD, a gesture that stems from her love for dogs.

Her respect for the working dog was solidified in February of 2002. She owned an elite show dog and was invited to a black-tie event in New York City honoring the top show dogs of the year’s Westminster Kennel Club.  Honorees of the event were K9 officers and handlers of the NYC police department, search and rescue, and fire department that served on September 11th and its aftermath. They filed into the room to music and images of the 9/11 rescue efforts projected on a large screen in the ballroom. As they filed in to surround the room, an NYPD K9 handler with his German shepherd puppy paused beside Tezel’s table.   Billye is a long-time owner of German shepherds and, amid the horrific images playing out on the screen, was happy to see a heartwarming puppy and commented as much.  The handler, realizing Tezel’s misinterpretation of the situation, informed her every puppy in the room represented a dog lost during the 9/11 rescue efforts. The gravity of that realization stayed with her.

A member of the Houston Kennel Club, during the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Billye went to the president of the Houston Kennel Club, Tom Pincus, and asked what they could do for the law enforcement “working” dog.  He encouraged her to do some research and offered the Houston Kennel Club’s support. In 2021, a mutual friend provided Billye with the contact of Kristin Uhlin, an HPD K9 trainer and handler.  Billye   discovered that most expenses for our K9s are covered by city budget and the Houston Police Foundation, but that the veterinary care of the retired dog fell on the officer. A perfect partnership to help raise medical funds for these retired K9 officers was formed.  To help support her endeavors, Mrs. Tezel located several privately owned veterinary practices that would serve the retired dogs in a financially reasonable capacity.  She has also made our K9 program one of the highlights of the Houston World Series of Dog Shows every July at NRG, where hundreds from our community enthusiastically come to watch demonstrations by our narcotics dogs and to learn life saving techniques for their dogs through our partnership with Memorial Hermann Life Flight’s K9 Casualty Care team.  Tezel’s mission is to give not only tangible support for the veterinary care of our K9s, but to give the general public firsthand appreciation of all these K9s and their officers do for our city.

ATO is eager to present such a well- deserving citizen the Heroes’ Hero Award at the ATO Gala March 23, 2024. If you have not yet bought your tickets for the event, please click the link here to purchase tickets, it will be a night you won’t want to miss!


Author Shannon Barker, Editor

Published March 11, 2024