Last week, on August 7, the Escondido City Council received a $60,000 canine grant from the Gary and Mary West Foundation through the Escondido Police Foundation to purchase three police K-9s and associated equipment.
The West Foundation is an Omaha, Nebraska–based organization that grants money in four areas: aid to low-income seniors, disadvantaged youths, medical and scientific research, and training and deployment of service canines. They work with police departments in both Omaha and San Diego.
The Escondido Police Department has seven canines on its force. With the grant, the new K-9s will replace three older dogs that will be retired later this year. The newbies will come from Adlerhorst International, Inc., an internationally known police K9 academy.
Located near Riverside in Jurupa Valley, Adlerhorst imports fully trained K-9s from Belgium, Germany, and Holland. According to Adelhorst’s website, “Virtually every dog used in law enforcement and military service is imported from Europe. Over the past 37 years we have been providing dogs for law enforcement…and have imported over 5,000 dogs.” Their partial client list includes almost 200 police departments scattered over ten western states.
After arrival in Jurupa Valley, the dogs will receive an additional two weeks of training in drug detection, search and rescue, or some other specialty. Individual police K-9 handlers will also spend time at Adelhorst and receive intensive training with the dog they expect to handle for many years.
Utah, a five-year veteran of the Escondido police force, is one of the K-9s slated for retirement in September. He came to officer Ryan Banks five years ago through the Adelhorst program. Being from Holland, Utah receives his working commands in Dutch.
According to Banks during a recent demonstration, “Teaching me about 20 commands in Dutch seemed a lot easier than teaching Utah the commands all over again in English.”
As an integral part of the K-9 program, the dogs go home at night with their handlers. Up until now, Utah has lived in a 6´x12´ kennel at Banks’s residence while off duty. But when retirement occurs, he will give up his kennel and be what Banks called “free range” around his yard. He will also get a new dog house because there will be a new K-9 resident — one of the three purchased with the grant money. Not wanting to give anything away for free, the city will sell Utah to Banks for one dollar.
Banks noted that, “We like to retire our animals a little early so they can have some good years after working. We don’t like to work them until they’ve completely outlived their usefulness.”