By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
For 25 years, Durham police have been using man’s best friend in the line of duty. Now, they’re hoping you’ll celebrate every month of 2017 with them and their K-9 companions.
Now in its the third straight year, the DRPS K-9 unit are selling calendars showcasing the team’s canine members in support of local charites. For the past two years, the initiative has raised more than $50,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society of Durham Region and The Animal Guardian Society. This year, the proceeds raised will also go toward assisting Autism Ontario.
Det. Const. Wayne King, a handler with the unit, explains the calendars are a little bit different than in years past to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the unit with the DRPS.
“It offers the public a very unique understanding as to what we do on a daily basis,” King says.
Along with assorted pictures of the unit’s nine K-9 crime fighters, the calendar includes a bio of each of the pooches, complete with career highlights and achievements.
For King’s dog, PSD Havoc, a particular break and enter call tops the list.
“The suspect was actually in the apartment. I challenged him and he decided he didn’t want to come out,” King recalls.
That’s when Havoc sprung into action.
“I put my dog into the apartment and he (the suspect) ran out of the apartment, locking the dog in,” King says. “He actually ran about four backyards into a residential area. At that point, we tracked the suspect and found him hiding under a deck. He saw the dog coming, he tried to run and jump over the fence and that was when the dog actually apprehended him on the fence and pulled him down.”
And if that wasn’t enough, it turns out the suspect was actually wanted on a trio of Canada-wide warrants and had been on the run from police for three years.
The K-9 unit responds to a variety calls throughout Durham, ranging from armed robberies and street-level incidents to armed person calls. In its 25-year history, the unit has grown from a single police dog in the early 1990s to eight handlers and nine service dogs today. The unit responds to thousands of calls each year.
“We also pride ourselves on our work ethic, and that’s contributing to everyday calls,” King says.
“Work ethic has always been the primary foundation of this unit and it continues to be.”
That same work ethic extends to the calendar as well, as officers in the unit will be taking time on their days off to sell calendars. Look for them and their dogs most Saturdays at the Whitby Petsmart on Victoria Street East and other locations across the region.
“It’s a nice intimate exchange for the citizens of Durham to get to meet a dog handler and ask us on a personal basis what we do and what our job entails,” King says.
During the launch event, a crowd filled the front foyer of the pet store as residents got to meet Blitz, Ozzy and Brock along with their handlers.
The calendars sell for $20 each, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going toward the charitable organizations and can be ordered through the DRPS website at drps.ca, picked up at the DRPS divisions or Police Education and Innovation Centre inside Durham College.
They can also be purchased from a variety of community partners, including Gagnon Sports at 385 Bloor St. W. in Oshawa, Pita Deli at Five Points Mall in Oshawa, Welcome Pet Depot at 2165 Durham Regional Hwy 2 in Bowmanville and the Police Credit Union at 962 Kingston Rd. in Pickering.