Officers want second Tahoe police dog to department
April 17, 2009
After organizing a successful police dog event last year, three South Lake Tahoe police officers hope to keep support for K-9 units growing at the South Shore.
Sgt. Josh Adler, Officer Tony Broadfoot and Officer Mark Hounsell formed the South Lake Tahoe Police Canine Association in February 2008 as a way to support the department’s K-9 unit and spread a positive message about the use of dogs in police work.
The association is a nonprofit organization that isn’t affiliated with the city or the police department.
But the department could reap benefits from the organization if the officers accomplish one of their long-term goals ” to raise enough money to pay for a second canine officer on the force.
A second unit would fill in the gaps when Broadfoot and the department’s police dog, Duke, are off-duty. Duke and Broadfoot work as a pair.
“There is a need because we only have a dog four days a week,” Adler said.
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Adler, who was previously a handler with the Los Angeles Police Department, says there is a wide variety of situations where police dogs are indispensable.
“One of the main things is officer safety,” said Adler, noting a dog can help resolve situations that are too dangerous for an officer to approach alone.
Suspects are also much more likely to surrender when they know a police dog is on scene, Hounsell added.
“There’s nothing like being in a pitch-dark room, knowing there’s a police dog coming after you,” Hounsell said.
And Hounsell should know: He plays the role of the “agitator” during Duke’s regular demonstrations, donning a protective sleeve and voluntarily getting attacked by the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Police dogs aren’t cheap, costing between $8,000 and $10,000 in addition to the expense of sending an officer to a month-long handler training program, Adler said.
And with the city’s budget constraints, it’s unlikely the city could afford another police dog, Hounsell added.
But that’s where the canine association hopes to step in.
“We just want to be able to say that if you choose to get another dog, we have the funds to do so,” Hounsell said.
The canine association is almost entirely dependent on private donations, but hopes to generate money from the second annual South Lake Tahoe Police Canine Association K-9 trials, to be held in July.
During the trials, dogs from around the region compete in a variety of events, including tests of a dog’s search skills and obedience.
Despite short notice ahead of last year’s trials, 42 dogs and their handlers ” many with families in tow ” competed in the event. About 50 dogs are already signed up for this year’s event, Adler said.
The K-9 trials are scheduled for July 11, with closed narcotics certification courses and competitions scheduled for July 9 and 10. A location has not been formalized, but the event is likely to take place at South Tahoe High School, the site of last year’s event, Adler said.