K-9 teams ready for ‘ruff’ competition
July 9, 2009
Hunched down on the Lake Tahoe Airport tarmac, Duke – the South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s Belgian malinois – knows the drill well.
Following a command from his handler, Officer Tony Broadfoot, the lean,
51⁄2-year-old dog takes off after a familiar perpetrator, the department’s canine agitator Officer Mark Hounsell.
Springing up, Duke latches onto a Hounsell’s left arm, which is covered with a protective sleeve for the training exercise.
Despite the serious flailing from Hounsell that one would expect from a real suspect being bitten by Duke, the Malinois doesn’t let go of the sleeve until another command from Broadfoot.
Duke trots back to Broadfoot’s side, and it’s right back to being just another dog, nonchalantly saddling up to observers in search of a back scratch or even standing up on his back legs in search of some attention from Hounsell.
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It’s a “big misconception” that police dogs are somehow malicious in their pursuit of suspects, Broadfoot said. Duke’s seemingly vicious attack on Hounsell is not indicative of Duke’s temperament, and is just part of the training required of a police dog, Broadfoot said.
The business side of police dogs from around the region will be on display Friday when the South Lake Tahoe Police Canine Association’s K-9 trials return to the South Shore for a second year. Last year’s event – a success for organizers – attracted 75 to 100 spectators.
“People, generally, are very intrigued about a dog performing a human job,” Broadfoot said. “You really don’t get to see police dogs at work unless you’re at a function like this.”
Although the trials were held at South Tahoe High School last year, construction at the school has moved the trials to Regan Beach.
The beach provides less space than the high school, but the backdrop of Lake Tahoe should add something to this year’s event, Broadfoot said.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Broadfoot said.
Friday’s competition is expected to start about 8:30 a.m. and go into the afternoon. The competition will include about 25 canine units competing in a variety of events that will put a police dog’s search, protection, agility and obedience skills to the test, Broadfoot said.
Friday’s competition is free and open to the public.
The association will also hold a narcotics detection event on Saturday, but that event is not open to the public.
Proceeds from the trials will go back to the canine association, a non-profit organization set up last year by Broadfoot, Hounsell and Sgt. Josh Adler.
The organization was set up to provide support for the police department’s canine unit and has been well-received by the South Shore, community Broadfoot said.
“The community has been outstanding to us as far as the donations we’ve been receiving ,” Broadfoot said.