By Mary O’KEEFE
This Saturday at Verdugo Park the Glendale K-9 Unit will hold its annual K-9 in the Park event. The event will give visitors a glimpse of the important role these dogs play in the police department.
Using dogs in investigations give police an added advantage. Dogs can detect people, narcotics and even weapons like explosives.
A person may be able to identify a general scent but dogs are able to hone in so precisely they can distinguish individual smells, said Sgt. Chris Spencer.
A dog can go to a gym bag that is full of clothes and shoes and be able to find that one narcotic he, or she, is trained to find.
Glendale is able to have a K-9 unit only through the generosity and support of the public. The Glendale Police Foundation is a supporter and sponsor of the unit, as are other businesses and individuals.
Rick Dinger and Crescenta Valley Insurance are sponsoring the city of Glendale Police K-9 Unit event.
“Crescenta Valley Insurance is really proud to be a sponsor of the Glendale Police K-9 Unit effort. It is a great event and fun for the whole family,” Dinger stated.
Dogs and police officers will be on hand at the park to introduce kids and adults to the unit. There will be demonstrations, a pet adoption fair, pet costume and speed contests, a barbecue and free bounce house and face painting for kids. Visitors will even get to take their picture with the Glendale K-9 team.
It also gives the community a chance to thank the officers and their dogs for their work and to support the unit.
It costs about $50,000 for training and supplies throughout the dog’s service, which is an average of five years.
Spencer said the dogs stay with the police officer handlers day and night.
Two dogs from Glendale K-9 Unit have recently retired. Marlin provided five-and-a-half years of service to Glendale and the surrounding area. He was crossed-trained for suspect searches and narcotic detection. Marlin left the department with an impressive record that included leading officers to several suspects including a narcotic dealer and gang member. He also was part of the apprehension of a suspect who was involved in a large-scale marijuana grow in the Verdugo Mountains in 2008.
Sam retired after six years of service. He was one of the first K-9 unit dogs in Glendale and was cross-trained to find and apprehend suspects, search for explosives, track missing persons and look for evidence. He too helped with the apprehensions in the Crescenta Valley area including two armed marijuana cultivation suspects in the Verdugo Mountains.
The value of dogs in the police field really began on the battleground of World War I. In that war, dogs were used to carry messages along a network of trenches. The most famous of those dogs was Rin Tin Tin, who later became a canine movie star. In 1942, the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army began training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or K-9 Corps, according to www.history.com.
Since then dogs have become a valuable tool for investigators in police departments throughout the country.
The public is invited to the free event on Saturday. Verdugo Park is located at 1621 Cañada Blvd., Glendale.