Benicia K9s Greeted Customers at Weekend Fundraiser
Pet Food Express hosted a fundraising event for “Cover Your K9” over the weekend, donating 100 percent of proceeds from the purchase of dog wash tokens to the California non-profit during business hours Saturday and Sunday. Benicia Police Department (BPD) canine officers Kirk Keffer and Jake Heinemeyer and their canine partners Bak and Atos, respectively, were on hand, providing demonstrations, petting opportunities and information to visitors for a couple of hours on each day of the event.
BPD officer Heinemeyer has been assigned to Atos (pronounced “at-toce”) for the past year.
“It’s enjoyable, and challenging at times,” Heinemeyer told the Herald Monday. “I have to be able to read his actions.”
Training is ongoing, Heinemeyer says, with weekly training events at various locations around the Bay Area.
“The state mandates 15 hours per month training,” he explains, “and we do more than that on our own,” he said.
The BPD partners with the Solano County Sheriff’s Department for canine officer training. Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Waller is one of the professional trainers.
“We are constantly changing locations,” Heinemeyer said.
Trainers don’t want to dogs to identify any particular location as their training ground. That kind of repetition would train the dogs to be prepared on at a particular place.
“The canines are basically a locating tool,” Heinemeyer said. “We use them to locate narcotics, find missing persons or help apprehend suspects.”
Atos recently placed third in local competitions in the areas of obedience and narcotics building search.
“He responds well to commands. He’s also very sociable. We visit elementary schools and the kids come up and pet him and give him hugs.”
Canine handlers take the dogs home with them, though they are technically the property of the police department.
“He likes to play fetch with my kids.”
Cover Your K9 supplies police car heat alarms, canine bulletproof vests, canine trauma kits and emergency training for canine handlers. The weekend-long event, the primary fundraiser for the organization, takes place each year at all Pet Food Express locations in California.
For more information about Cover Your K9, visit the web site at coveryourk9.com.
By ELIZABETH WARNIMONT
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