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Working like a police dog

Event puts Police Department’s K9 unit in the spotlight to try to raise funds for the division.

October 11, 2009|By Zain Shauk

NORTH GLENDALE — Glendale’s police dogs put on a show for hundreds of onlookers Saturday at Verdugo Park, hoping to not only wow the audience but to inspire donations as well.

The canines charged and tackled mock criminal suspects and demonstrated their tracking skills and athletic abilities to event attendees, many of whom brought their own barking companions to the city’s first “K9s in the Park” event.

“We love animals, and we just find it amazing how incredible they are,” said Pasadena resident Sherri Toy, who, along with her daughter, was impressed by the police dogs.

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While many residents and community members came to the promotional event for the Glendale Police Department K9 unit mainly to take advantage of low-cost vaccinations offered by the city, officers were hoping people would be inspired to support the division.

The four-year-old unit, which is not supported by city funds, has been financed largely by private donations to the Glendale Police Foundation.

But contributions to the group have dropped off during the recession — at a time when police are hoping to build up enough funds to replace each of their four dogs, all of which they hope to retire in coming years, said Officer Robert Wynkoop, the main organizer of the fundraising effort.

The unit has enough money to pay for its annual operating budget of $15,000 to care for the animals, but will need $25,000 for each new dog it hopes to purchase and train for work in the field, Wynkoop said.

By organizing an event that offered entertainment, pet services and a chance to get up close and personal with police dogs, officers hoped the community would be more willing to support the department’s four German shepherds, which are a substantial help to law enforcement officials, said Lt. Ian Grimes, who oversees the unit.

“We’re more effective,” Grimes said of the department’s operations when police dogs are involved. “We do things faster.”

The dogs’ impact was clear during a recent incident involving four armed men who fled their vehicle during a police pursuit and hid in a Glendale neighborhood, Grimes said.

Police would have had to have searched for the men on foot, which would have been time-consuming and dangerous, but sent a police dog instead, he said.

“The dog located the suspects within 30 minutes,” he said.

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