By Leslie Cano
La Habra Journal
Photos courtesy La Habra Police Department
What does it take for an animal to be considered special or unique? Most dog owners believe their pets are special in one way or another. But really, what makes a dog special? Being able to catch a Frisbee in mid-air while doing a backflip? Barking on command and being rewarded with a treat after?
Well how about a team of crime fighting dogs? Part of the K9 Foundation, they help La Habra city be a safer town as they take down the bad guys.
Working alongside with the La Habra Police officers, the La Habra K9 Foundation, a non-profit organization, was created to exclusively support the LHPD canines. The foundation includes having a dog that can sniff out hidden narcotics to being able to rely on another dog who is used as an apprehension dog when scenarios get a little too dangerous for officers.
Meet the team of LHPD’s four-legged officers who’ve raised the standards to what average canines are really capable of doing.
Bobby is an English Springer Spaniel that came from Ireland and is considered one of Orange County’s most unique police K-9’s. His specialty is in narcotics detection. This puppy can sniff out hidden drugs in a building within minutes according to Behind the Badge.
He was able to join the La Habra Police Department in late 2013 after $15,000 was collected in donations from private donors. He is now partners with La Habra Police Reserve Officer Rob Sims.
“Bobby can do things so much quicker, all by himself,” says Mike Murphy, the departments lead chaplain. “When we are looking for contraband, Bobby with his nose, nothing can beat it. You can have four police officers take four to six hours to complete a search in a house, to where Bobby could inspect the entire house in 45 minutes.”
With that kind of nose, Murphy feels Bobby is an incredible asset to the La Habra Police when it comes to locating hidden drugs inside buildings.
Prinz is a Belgian Malinois used as a front man in the line of duty when it comes to going after the bad guys. Prinz’s ranking comes from all the duties he’s been assigned and completed. He is the K-9 partner to Police Corporal Nick Baclit.
Together as a team, the dogs have made 35 felony arrests and 26 misdemeanor arrests according to Behind the Badge. Those arrests include having chased and taken down criminals to sniffing out narcotics and weapons.
Prinz was recently awarded a ballistic vest to help protect him when he’s out on the job. Without the vest, Prinz has been vulnerable to knife stabbings and gun shots.
A Lake Forest nonprofit, the Animal Health Foundation, paid for the bill to get Prinz’s vest.
Now he can keep doing his job and be safer than ever while he does it.
Emerson is a Golden Retriever with a big heart. Emerson and his owner, the department’s lead chaplain, Mike Murphy, are both full-time volunteers for the foundation. Their duties involve doing jobs that the other police K-9’s wouldn’t really know how to do well, and that is comforting others.
When police come across persons who have just experienced a traumatic event or are in a great deal of shock, Emerson is called in to help relax the victim in the situation.
“The whole idea behind what I am trying to do with Emerson is to give people help immediately,” Murphy explained. “As soon as we can help people process what they have just been through, they’re better off.”
Murphy also adds that when bones are broken paramedics are called to the scene to help, but who helps fix the victims emotions? That’s where Emerson comes in to help heal hearts and emotions.
This team of all-star hounds from the K9 Foundation adds an additional resource for the La Habra Police Department. Each dog has a trait specialty that the department can utilize in their efforts for combating crime.
The K9 Foundation is always looking for more volunteers and needed donations. The foundation is currently looking to raise money to purchase another canine to add to this team, possibly a bloodhound according to Simms. The canine force in the LHPD can continue to grow as long as organizations like the K9 Foundation can continue to receive the support and help they need.