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November 2, 2010 > Fremont K-9 unit shines at competition

Fremont K-9 unit shines at competition

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Courtesy of Bryant Washington

Doggedly committed to their work, the Fremont Police Department K-9 Unit performed at and won the 27th annual Witmer-Tyson K-9 Trials with flying colors. 34 K-9 teams participated in this year's event. FPD took home eight awards, including at least one from each of the phases. Officer Matt Snelson repeated his performance from the previous year and took home the best overall award. The FPD K-9 Unit consists of Sergeant Kevin Gott, Officer Matt Snelson and K-9 Cris, Officer Jason Lambert and K-9 Dax, Officer Dennis Baca and K-9 Harkos, and Officer Kurtis Romley and K-9 Timo.

Witmer-Tyson Imports, who hosted the 27th annual Police K-9 Competition this year, is the canine supplier and trainers for about 50 different law enforcement departments in Northern California. "We bring in a Police K-9 Judge to oversee and judge the competition. This way it is fair to all who compete," said Jim Stark, Manager - Trainer, Witmer-Tyson Imports, Inc. The competition consists of four phases: Obedience, Obstacles, Search, and Protection. Each phase is scored individually to rank the competitors, and an overall score combining all four phases is collated to determine overall position.

The two-day event begins with an Obedience and Obstacles phase. Officers must know the obedience routine, which is all competed off leash. There are a series of turns, stops, commands from a distance, and weaving through a group of moving people. There is even gunfire during the obedience routine to make sure that the K-9 keeps heeling with their handler. The obstacles include six different types of jumps, walls, or tunnels. The K-9 must navigate over or through each obstacle.

On the second day of the competition consists of protection routine and search. The protection routine starts with the K-9 team member heeling off leash when a "bad guy" appears and fires a gun. The K-9 must heel to a place for cover and get involved in a mock gunfight. The K-9 is sent to control the "bad guy." Then a second "bad guy" appears and the K-9 must protect his handler from this attack.

The K-9 must let go and watch the second "bad guy" while his partner takes him into custody, meanwhile the first "bad guy" is running away. When the handler returns, the K-9 unit must heel together before the K-9 can be sent to capture the escaping "bad guy." After these "bad guys" are taken into custody, the K-9 is sent after another "bad guy." This time, this "bad guy" gives up and the dog must stop and watch this person until they are taken into custody.

The search takes place on one-half of the competition field. Handlers do not know the hiding location of the "bad guy." There are over ten different hiding locations with distractions in the search area, including food. Only three minutes are allowed for the teams to search.

"This year we had 34 K-9 teams compete from as far north as and as far south as Arroyo Grande," said Stark.

"We are obviously very proud of the four officers and their canine partners. These officers train their dogs every day of the week to keep them sharp and responsive to the officers commands," Police Chief Craig Steckler told TCV. "This is the second year in a row that Fremont PD has taken overall number one in this competition. This shows the professionalism and dedication of all four of the canine officers," he said.

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