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ANAHEIM – On the job, Kaiser – a 9-year-old German shepherd – has earned the reputation as a fierce crime fighter and one of the county’s top crime dogs, involved in catching more suspected criminals than any other dog in the county’s K-9 community, according to Anaheim police.
Off-duty, it’s a different story. Kaiser is known as a gentle giant, at ease rolling around with his handler, Anaheim police officer Brian Leist, and Leist’s two children, ages 6 and 2.
Now Kaiser gets to enjoy that life of leisure full time.
Tuesday night, six of his fellow K-9 dogs lined up outside City Hall to honor Kaiser for his years on the police force and for his success fighting crime. Inside, the City Council flanked by nine officers thanked Kaiser with praise and affectionate scratches behind the ears.
“It’s difficult to watch,” Leist said. “I’ve known it’s been coming for a few months, but it’s still hard to prepare him for it. He gets up in the morning and starts whining because he wants to come to work so badly.”
Since 2001, Kaiser has netted 250 “finds” and “give ups” – meaning that’s how many suspects he’s credited with helping nab. That’s more than any other dog in Orange County in the past seven years, Leist said.
No agency maintains numbers independently but the county’s handlers are a tight community and often compare numbers, officials said
“Brian is kind of a father figure in the K-9 unit and a lot of guys look up to him and Kaiser as the model for how you do it,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez, police department spokesman.
Dogs usually serve about five years on a K-9 unit; Kaiser has worked for seven years because he’s been so successful, Leist said.
Kaiser will spend his days hanging out with Leist’s kids and a 10-month-old puggle – a pug and beagle mix.
Leist also will change jobs, working full time on the city’s SWAT team. An officer can only spend seven years in any one unit, so he needs to change.
“But my goal is to get back on the K-9 unit eventually,” he said. “It’s the best job in the world.”
As is tradition, Leist paid $1 to the city to officially transfer ownership. Leist presented Mayor Curt Pringle with the single bill at Tuesday’s meeting.
Leist is confident Kaiser can adjust to his new life.
“Not every police dog is a strong social dog, but Kaiser is kind of bipolar, I like to say,” Leist said. “He’s always attacked the bad guys with ferocity. But when he’s at home, he’s Mr. Nice.”