Auf Ranger, Auf! Auf means “down” in Dutch and is the command that Sacramento County Deputy Rick Kemp uses with his patrol dog Ranger, who was born in the Netherlands and purchased in the United States. Kemp and Ranger, along with the other 11 Sheriff K-9 teams, can be seen around the County every Wednesday training, practicing and refining their skills.
“Working with a patrol canine is a sought after assignment and a way of life,” Deputy Kemp said. “These dogs are highly trained, are a valuable policing tool and become a part of our lives. There’s a bond that forms that increases both our performance.”
The patrol dogs are selected from specialized breeders for intelligence, high motivation, and driven personalities. The most commonly selected breeds are German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd, all from the general “herding” family. Kemp notes the selected dogs wouldn’t necessarily make good family pets, but can respond to training and perform duties including finding their targets (which could be criminals or a missing person), finding a gun (recently fired or brand new) and detecting narcotics. Generally the dogs serve for about eight years until their response times begin to slow. When they retire, they are generally placed with a deputy who understands their temperament. “They are so driven to work, we have to place them with the right person, even in retirement,” Kemp added.
Purchased in January 2015, Ranger passed his qualifying tests in March of 2016 and has already had eight apprehensions. “Every dog has a distinct personality; all have similar skills, but each dog, as well as their handler, has to be trained differently,” Kemp added.
Transportation Security Administration
The Sheriff’s Department also has dogs working at the Sacramento International Airport. These dogs, usually Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, German Short-Haired Pointers and Belgian Malinois, search for explosives in facilities, luggage, aircraft, and cargo. Similar to the patrol dogs, teams are comprised of one handler and one dog because the handlers bond so closely with the dogs and form a partnership. There are multiple teams and the activities are sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The dogs are often trained in view of passengers so they can acclimate to the environment, and their presence acts as a deterrent.
Dogs are also used at the Folsom Dam, searching vehicles, packages, buildings, and open areas to inspect for explosives. This K-9 team uses two Labradors for their EOD (Explosive Ordnance Detection) work and their dogs train with other EOD dogs in the community.
Threats of a Different Nature
The bad guys that canines detect can also include bugs and pests. The Agricultural Commissioner employs an award-winning Labrador mix, Dozer, to sniff out agricultural pests in fruits, vegetables, plants and soil that could harm the County’s $350 million dollar agricultural industry.
County K9s not only protect us but offer us comfort. You can find a team of certified pet therapy dogs at the Sacramento International Airport, calming passengers as they wait for their flights, and the District Attorney employs a chocolate poodle named Reggie in the Victim Witness Unit. Reggie comforts victims, witnesses and others who are stressed or anxious during court proceedings.
And of course, if you’re looking for your own K-9 companion, the Bradshaw Animal Shelter always has a great selection of adoptable dogs, waiting for their forever home.
If you would like to donate to help the dogs in retirement, visit the Sacramento Sherriff Association’s website.
Contact Info: Chris Andis: Sacramento County Communication & Media: 916-874-2691