K9 Memorial Monument Planned for Arlington Police, Fire Service Dogs

A City of Arlington initiative aims to honor retired and deceased police and fire service dogs.

Nearly $30,000 in private donations have been collected to date for the planned K9 Memorial Monument, which would feature a Labrador Retriever to represent Arlington Fire Department service dogs and a Belgian Malinois to represent Arlington Police Department service dogs. The bronze monument, expected to cost $100,000 to create, would be located between the West Police Service Center and the Fire Department Training Facility on Green Oaks Boulevard in West Arlington.

Arlington City Councilwoman Sheri Capehart, who launched the project, said police and fire K9s are an integral part of the city’s public safety system. From helping officers apprehend suspects to conducting sweeps of buildings and public gathering for threats, Arlington’s service dogs work tirelessly to keep The American Dream City safe for citizens and visitors.

“Our Police K9 officers go into harms way to protect the life of their handler and others without regard for their own life.  The Fire K9s have incredible ability through their sense of smell to detect narcotics, chemicals and other compounds,” Capehart said. “Whether our K9s serve as Police or Fire officers, their service is invaluable for the safety of our community. “

The Arlington Police Department started its K9 Unit in 1979 with one handler and one dog. It is now a specialized unit made up of three K9 teams. Each team operates on a city-wide basis and is used predominately for high-risk area and building searches. Each of the three K9 handlers is a fifteen year plus veterans of the police department and each has more than 10 years experience in the K9 Unit. The K9 Unit consists of three service dogs, K9 Hank, K9 Finn and the most recent addition K9 Dude.

The Arlington Fire Department’s K9 Unit started in 2006 as a result of the addition of AT&T stadium.  The department currently has nine explosive detection canines. The ninth is currently in a seven-week training program with its handler in Anniston, AL. Arlington has the second largest explosive detection K9 unit in the Metroplex and are the first to deploy the Vapor Wake K9’s. All of the K9’s can smell up to 19,000 different explosive compounds. These teams have had the opportunity to work various Super Bowls, World Series, Opening of the Bush Library, RNC, presidential protection and other dignitary duties. The department’s K9 officers are Jasper, Bo, Jessie, Chase, Webster, Leroy, George, Ben, and our newest Tania.

“They are K9 Officers, but they are also integral members of the families of the K9 handlers and when they are off duty, they enjoy good tummy rubs and hanging out with their human families.  The K9 teams, handler and dog, provide a unique service of public safety and have more than earned public recognition,” Capehart said. “The K9 Memorial Project will be a meaningful tribute to these beloved four-legged officers whose desire is to work and serve at the command of their handlers.”

Donations ranging from $25 to $1,000 can be made online at http://arlingtonwebstore.com/caninemonumentdonations.aspx.