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Deft Dogs Detect Drugs—For Sport

The South San Francisco Police Department hosted a K-9 Trial and Competition Friday night, and the competition continues on Saturday.

Listen pup, if you’re trying to win “Best In Show” at the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, all you have to do is get a nice hair cut, let the judges poke you a little bit, and then run around in a circle a couple of times. You can do that, can’t you?

But competing in a K-9 Trial and Competition, well, that’s an honor reserved for us big dogs.

On Friday evening, 19 handler and K-9 teams from agencies around Northern California came to to take part in the narcotics phase of the ’s annual K-9 Trial and Competition. San Jose, Alameda, Stockton, Santa Clara, and San Mateo were all represented, to name a few.

Deputy Sheriff Jesse Gurkovic of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and his K-9 Grant came to show off their narcotics searching skills, but won’t soon forget their big bust last week.

“Last Saturday night I made a traffic stop and used Grant to search the air space around the car," Gurkovic said. "He alerted at the door handle, indicating that drugs had been in that area, we searched the car and found a large amount of cocaine and a few thousand dollars in cash.”

In South City last week, Detective Corporal Marty Mahon’s K-9 Dugan found 11 pounds of marijuana heat-sealed in the door panels of a car. Pretty impressive.

The handler and K-9 teams put their real world skills to the test in three phases: first, an indoor hidden narcotics search in the high school's woodshop, then a vehicle search in the back parking lot, and lastly an outdoor search in a fenced off junk yard. South San Francisco police officers who organized the annual event hid marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin throughout the scenarios for the handler and K-9 teams to “sniff out.”

Experienced and certified judges were on hand, watching individual teams compete. They gave points based on accuracy and demeanor, also noting speed, in case a tie would need to be broken. Some K-9s exhibited “aggressive alerts,” scratching and biting at the concealed drugs, while others offered “passive alerts,” sitting down and looking at their handlers as soon as they detected the narcotics.

On Saturday, at ’s football field, starting at 9 a.m. and running until 4 p.m. with an expected 25 teams participating.

The event is free and spectators can expect a lot of action as teams go through four phases, a hidden suspect search, obedience, agility and patrol scenarios (that’s where they put a man in a puffy suit and let the K-9s attack him).

, a team of 14- to 21-year-old South City students and residents with a strong interest in law enforcement, will be barbecuing and selling snacks at the event.

Erica Jazayeri August 21, 2011 at 01:17 AM
These dogs were definitely in a league of their own!

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