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June 24, 2009 > K-9 - A team that is hard to beat

K-9 - A team that is hard to beat

By William Mancebo and William Marshak
Photos By William Mancebo

Canines have been "man's best friend" for centuries, providing comfort and protection throughout their relationship with their two-legged companions. Few can compete with the keen senses of well-bred dogs. With proper training and discipline, K-9 units have served to maintain peace and aid in combat. Pictographs from ancient times illustrate the symbiotic nature of dogs and man in battles as warriors, sentinels and messengers. Above all, these fiercely loyal companions often were a source of inspiration and love that transcended a particular hostile encounter.

In civil security situations, use of animals is common and within the ranks of police forces, mounted patrols and K-9 units are considered vital to a functional compliment of sworn officers. Search and control situations often are not only augmented by but can be dependent upon the agility and remarkable sensitivity of canine companions.

Local law enforcement agencies recognize the advantages of K-9 units and such patrols have been a common practice and specially-trained officers and dogs work together throughout their careers. Dogs are not just patrol partners, but live with their human companion and their families, often retiring with them as well. Human officers and their canine counterparts are fused into a single operational unit that exhibits amazing synergy exceeding by far the efforts of a single officer. A strong bond of love, honor and loyalty combined with extensive training gives these units a significant advantage on patrol and in emergency situations.

An example of local K-9 officers is Robert Davila who has been a member of the Fremont Police force for his entire 29-year career in law enforcement. His current partner and constant companion is "Officer" Tuffy, a five year-old German shepherd who has been with the Fremont Police Department and Officer Davila for the past three years. Both will retire - and remain together - at the end of this year. Davila has worked in SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), field training, sexual assault, narcotics, fraud and as a detective during his career but says the most rewarding position has been time spent with Tuffy. Born and trained in the Czech Republic, Tuffy is highly skilled in search situations - for people and narcotics - and can work as an adjunct to the SWAT unit. He even wears his own badge!

The team of Davila and Tuffy exercise and train every night sharpening their skills to follow orders and protocol regardless of distractions, tracking, narcotics and coordination with other K-9 units. Tuffy has a different collar for each duty and similar to his human counterpart, at times wears a bulletproof vest for protection.

Davila loves this assignment and his attachment for Tuffy truly shows. Other K-9 units exhibit similar affection and respect for each partner and serve as willing public relations ambassadors to the community. As an example of the warm relationship between the public and these units, K-9 Officer Dennis Baca and his companion, "Harkos" recently received a check from fundraising efforts of the California School for the Blind to purchase an armored vest for Harkos. Although the fundraising goal was $600, the school raised $1,149 for the K-9 unit.

Davila says he and Tuffy will soon retire together and Tuffy will remain his dog. Davila says he could not ask for a better way to leave the force.

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