Zak the police dog may be retired from the Arroyo Grande Police Department where he served five years as a search, protection and drug-sniffing dog, but that doesn’t mean the program is ending.
“There are no health issues,” Cmdr. John Hough said of Zak’s retirement. “But to have any reasonable retirement — the kind I’d like to have after I retire — we’re letting him retire now.
“But it is a valuable asset, and we don’t want the dog to go away — if the community will support it with the funds we need for a new dog,” he said.
Sgt. Kevin McBride, the department’s previous K-9 officer, said the cost of the dog alone can run as high as $8,000.
“We cross-train them in search, protection and narcotics,” McBride said, and that means an additional $3,500 for search training and another $3,500 for narcotics training.
Zak’s partner Senior Officer Kimberely Martin said the department’s dogs have come from Whitmore-Tyson Kennels in Menlo Park, which maintains kennels throughout Europe for recruiting and training police dogs.
Foreign-trained dogs are used for police work because they respond to commands in other languages, which makes it more difficult for suspects to control the dogs, and that contributes to the dogs’ costs.
Hough said the department intends to hold a fundraising campaign to help pay for a new dog, although plans haven’t been firmed up yet.
He added, “We’d love to have someone just hand us the money, but … .”
The https://positiveleo.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpdepartment is currently conducting personnel tests to select a new dog handler. Once funding is found, the handler will be matched with a dog at the kennels, and the training will begin.
The best-case scenario could put a new K-9 team on the streets by late fall, Hough said.
Anyone interesting in helping the department finance a new police dog can contact Hough at 473-5126.