VPD debuts new, four-legged members

Vancouver Courier

0
580

One of Vancouver’s new police dogs, Gibbs, with his handler/partner Const. Dennis Jesus. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Vancouver Police Department Tuesday showed off two of its newest recruits.

The department recently purchased two new police dogs — Gibbs and Jocko. The canines are currently in the second week of the department’s 15-week training program.

The purchase of the new police dogs was funded by a $25,000 donation from the Vancouver Police Foundation, which covered the cost of the dogs as well as the travel expenses for officers to fly to California to purchase the pooches, said Martina Meckova, executive director of the foundation.

Gibbs, 22 months, is originally from Slovakia while Jocko, 17 months, hails from the Netherlands. Both dogs received some basic training in their home countries before being brought to North America by a vendor in California.

Const. Ryan Visser, one of the two officers from the unit who flew to California to test and select the two dogs, said the animals didn’t stay in the U.S. long before being chosen to join Vancouver Police Department.

Sgt. Ray Wong, one of two sergeants that head the canine unit, said the officers chose Gibbs and Jocko from about 20 dogs.

“We’re looking for a dog that has very high work ethic, is very playful, loves to hunt and chase his ball. We’re also looking to see that they have a nice, strong grip that’s been developed over a year,” he said, adding that the dogs are also examined medically, including x-rays of the animals’ hips, backs, elbows and knees.

Visser, who is one of the units trainers, said the 15-week program covers a variety of skills.

“It covers everything from obedience, property search, criminal apprehension… agility and general socialization.”

Police dogs are with the unit for an average of seven to 10 years, Visser said, adding that Vancouver currently has 15 police dogs, including the two new recruits.

“They’re replacing dogs that have retired and left the unit.”

When a Vancouver police dog is ready to retire, it is purchased from the city for $1 and lives out the rest of its days with its handler.

“All the handers obviously take our dogs, we’re not going to give up our partners eight years,” Visser said.

“They’re ours and they come home and live their retired life on the beach, going for walks.”

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

Read more from the Vancouver Courier