Police gets two new dogs

April 27, 2020

Two new officers at the Santa Fe Police Department have special skills that set them apart from others on the force.

They can quickly track suspects, have a heightened sense of hearing, and can detect the odors of narcotics and explosives.

After a seven-year hiatus, the Santa Fe Police Department has restarted its K-9 program with the addition of canine Officers Ayke and Azar.

Ayke, a German shepherd who came to Santa Fe from Germany, works with Officer Alejandro Arroyo, while Azar, a Belgian Malinois born in Los Alamos, is paired with Officer David Gallegos. Both are about a year and a half old.

After six weeks of training and bonding with their new handlers, Ayke and Azar officially began working in Santa Fe this week.

“It’s another tool. It’s just a little bit more responsibility,” Gallegos said of the dogs.

“I mean, we are still doing the patrol thing,” he added. “We also have to keep in the back of our mind, ‘Hey, we have the dog in the back. He needs to eat. He also needs to use the restroom, to be hydrated and cool,’ at the same time.”

The department’s K-9 program started in the 1970s, Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said, but ended in 2013 when the three certified canine handlers were either promoted or retired.

The department attempted to revive the program a few years later, but the command staff ultimately decided it was not the right time, and the money was allocated to other projects.

In the fall, Valdez applied for a federal State Homeland Security Program grant to cover the costs of the two dogs and training.

The total came to about $27,000, Valdez said, which will be reimbursed through the grant.

Annual costs of maintaining the K-9 unit are expected to be around $4,800 a year, Valdez said, which includes $100 a month for each officer and $1,200 for each dog’s veterinary bills.

Ayke and Azar both had some training before joining the department, but like any new police officers who are “fresh out of the academy,” they still have a lot to learn, Valdez said.

Ayke was trained in Germany for the nation’s police service dog examination, while Azar was training for sport.

They have been building their tracking skills and expanding on their obedience training, Arroyo said. “We introduced them to either narcotics or the [explosive ordnance disposal] stuff, the improvised explosives and all that, just depending on what the dog was going to be trained to do.”

Valdez said the dogs’ ability to detect odors will be a game changer for the department. Azar’s specialty is finding explosives, while Ayke focuses on finding narcotics.

The dogs will train with the department’s bomb squad and SWAT team so they’ll have the confidence to do their jobs in an emergency, Gallegos said.

Training the dogs never really ends — for the dogs or the officers.

The dogs — still puppies, despite their tough jobs — live with Arroyo and Gallegos, but they aren’t the officers’ pets.

“He comes out, and he looks like he’s Superman,” Gallegos said of Azar. “He’s intimidating and mean.

“But when we’re at home,” Gallegos said, “I look outside the window, and he’s doing circles inside his pen. He’s a pretty big dork, but when it comes to work … he’s squared away and ready to go.”

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    K9s For Warriors

    January 7, 2021

    K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides military veterans suffering from severe PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma with service animals, recently changed the name of its main campus to honor its leader and founder Shari Duval. Duval began K9s For Warriors in 2011 after her son returned from two tours in […]

    Read more

    More Recent News