Taking a bite out of crime | K-9 trials return for a third year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Taking a bite out of crime | K-9 trials return for a third year

Adam Jensen
Adam Jensen / Tahoe Daily TribuneSan Francisco Police Department's Pyro, with handler Roly Canales, takes a practice lap through an agility feature at South Lake Tahoe's Babe Ruth Little League Field on Friday.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Parties in South Lake Tahoe often include nearly as many dogs as people.

And the biggest dog party of the year returns this weekend with the South Lake Tahoe Police Canine Association’s third annual K9 Trials.

About 50 police dogs and their handlers from around Northern California and Nevada are expected to compete in the trials, which have attracted new participants each year and have been successful at bringing visitors to town during a typically slow time of year, said South Lake Tahoe Police Canine Officer Tony Broadfoot.

“Every year I see new faces,” Broadfoot said. “Every year there’ll be a new group of people here.”

The South Shore’s weather and scenic beauty makes it an obvious fit for a K-9 competition, said Canine Officer Mark Hounsell while taking to a canine handler from Modesto, who acknowledged his arm needed no twisting to attend.

Many officers come to the trials whether or not they receive reimbursement from their departments, Broadfoot added.

The trials started Thursday with a Western States Police Canine Association Narcotics Certification and continued Friday with narcotics and explosives detection competitions at South Tahoe Middle School.

But the most exciting part of the trials events is scheduled for Saturday during competitions to test a canine team’s patrol, agility and apprehension abilities on a course that started to take shape Thursday at the South Lake Tahoe Babe Ruth Little League Field.

The trials are free to watch and family-friendly, but dogs that aren’t competing should probably be left at home because some police dogs become aggressive around others, Broadfoot said.

The trials arose from efforts by Hounsell, Broadfoot and Sgt. Josh Adler, who formed the canine association more than two years ago to support the police department’s K-9 unit.

In combination with criminal assets seized by police, the nonprofit group raised enough money during its first two years to bring a second police dog onto the force, a German shepherd named Argo, in March.

Argo is scheduled to be fitted for a bulletproof vest on Saturday, following a fundraising car wash by South Lake Tahoe youth Lindsey Rhodes in July.

The trials are the association’s major fundraiser each year, and the money raised from this year’s entry fees is likely to go toward new bite suits and training, Adler said.

Ultimately, Adler would like to get a third dog for the department, but that goal remains out on the horizon.

“We’re not there yet,” Adler said Friday. “We’re not even close.”

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