K9 Spaghetti Dinner coming:
Council given helping of info on Canine Cops

April 24, 2015
Santa Paula News

The community can help keep its K9 cops the City Council was told at the Monday meeting where they heard an update on the special fundraiser honoring police canines.

Debbie Johnson of the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation told the council that the annual K9 Spaghetti Dinner will be held Wednesday, April 29 at the Community Center (530  W. Main St.) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. when the program will begin.

Tickets are only $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under; full-size adult to go plates only are available for $15 each (no child plates for takeout).

Johnson noted this year’s event will have musical entertainment by Barry Cooper for an evening devoted to honoring retiring K9 Hozy, giving kudos to Zak and welcoming the newest K9 cop, Ace.

“It’s a great meal and the Odd Fellows come out and help us put it together,” including cooking duty.

Proceeds from the dinner benefits the Santa Paula Police K9 Unit.

Johnson said, “We have some special guests here with us to speak about the program,” Ace and Zak, but they would let their human partners, respectively Senior Officer Allen Macias and Senior Officer Larry Johnson, do the talking.

Macias told the council that he and Ace just finished the 5-week patrol training, a course that is “physically demanding…when I first got Ace I thought it was going to be like my dog at home, he’d run up to me,” with tail wagging.

But, joked Macias, “Ace could care less,” although the two have started to bond with the help of Sr. Officer Johnson, who is the K9 supervisor.

“I call him at night and have long talks,” that Macias said has helped him adjust to the dog by “Just being patient, not showing I’m aggravated —because he gets aggravated…” 

Macias said they now are becoming true partners.

“I’m a big supporter of this program,” said Mayor John Procter, not only because of a K9’s policing skills but also because, “They are great ambassadors for the city…I had the honor of being attacked,” while wearing a heavily padded suit for a K9 demonstration.

“What amazed me was not only the intensity but that there was not a bit of malice,” in the actions of the imported dog, which responds to commands given in German.

At the dinner Senior Officer Larry Johnson’s K9 partner Zak will be honored and the retiring K9 Hozy bid farewell to a life of retirement with his police partner Scott Varner and family.

Vice Mayor Martin Hernandez asked about the costs associated with the K9 program.

The dog cost about $9,000 said Senior Officer Larry Johnson: “All come from Europe,” as they are superior to American bred K9s.

The dog attends patrol school at a cost of about $5,000; narcotic detection training is about $4,000, a four-week course and finally hard surface tracking at a cost of about $3,000 for the three-week course. The dog’s human partner must also train and be paid.

The purpose of hard surface tracking is “To find children,” that are missing as well as adults with dementia.

Senior Officer Larry Johnson said such training is particularly important because the dog must learn not to be in an aggressive mode.

The dogs also attend SWAT school for about $1,000.

“All this training results in a well-rounded dog…being a small agency we’re limited to two canines,” said Senior Officer Larry Johnson. “Our main problem here is gangs and narcotics,” and the training of the K9s focuses on dealing with violent suspects and detecting illegal narcotics.

Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi asked how long the K9s can serve and learned about five years.

Debbie Johnson told the council that the SPP&F Foundation works with area businesses to help sponsor the purchase of the animal and then pays for the training and equipment.

She noted, “We’re getting our two dogs bulletproof vests,” at a cost of about $4,000.

The city noted Sr. Officer Johnson, has a very limited budget for the K9s, which live with their partners and their families, even after they retire.

Tickets to the K9 Dinner are available at the Santa Paula Times, 120 Davis St. and the Santa Paula Police Department, 214 S. 10th St. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the dinner. 

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