(Left) Applied Silicon donated the funds to the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation to acquire K9 Ace and (from left) Senior Officer Allen Macias, Doreen Pitluk and Jack Pitluk, the latter the company CFO, celebrated the acquisition at the dinner. (Right) K9 Zak, whose human partner is Senior Officer Larry Johnson, Supervisor of the K9 Unit, was having fun with the children that enjoyed a “meet and greet” with the dogs at the dinner. Several kids had the K9 Officers autograph the placemats, a collage of the dogs and their handlers.

Top Canine Cops honored at Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation dinner

May 06, 2015
Santa Paula News

It was all dogs all the time at the 6th Annual K9 Spaghetti Dinner where Zak was honored, new dog Ace welcomed and the retired Hozy lauded, although the latter was unable to attend the celebration.

Those attending the April 29 dinner at the Community Center also learned that Santa Paula Police Detective Randy Haumann — Hozy’s human partner — has been selected the 2014 SPPD Officer of the Year, the second time he has been honored.  

A fun family event, the annual Spaghetti Dinner benefits the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundations K9 fund, which purchases and trains the highly effective — and in the long run highly cost effective — K9s.

Santa Paula Police Explorers were kept busy selling raffle tickets for an array of prizes in the room holding close to 200 supporters of the K9 program, including the numerous dinner sponsors recognized with their names on oversized dog bones lining the walls. Tables were decorated with miniature German Shepard plush toys and placemats showing a photo collage of the evening’s K9 honorees and their human partners.

Master of Ceremonies Don Johnson, a SPP&FF Board Director, welcomed the crowd and thanked them for their support, and that included Burma and Butch Baselice.

The Baseline’s own Santa Paula Salsa Co., which has a specialty line of the most popular condiment in the nation featuring SPPD K9s and their handlers; a portion of each sale benefits the K9 program.

Johnson introduced Council members Ginger Gherardi and Jim Tovias and noted Vice Mayor Martin Hernandez had come by earlier to pick up dinners to go. 

The “cooking crew” — Odd Fellows Lodge members — as well as the Dinner Committee and its Chairwoman Debbie Johnson, also a SPP&FF Board Director were also recognized, as were other volunteers including members of Citizens Patrol.

Johnson said, “If you heard a little woofing back earlier it was K9s Zak and Ace,” probably impatient for their portion of the program to start.

Zak’s partner, Senior Officer Larry Johnson, the K9 Unit Supervisor, noted the importance of the dogs to the SPPD and introduced Haumann, who was partnered with Hozy in April 2010 and served together until Haumann entered the Detective Unit.

“I remember the very first K9 dinner,” where Haumann said the community bid farewell to retiring K9s Rex and Jack, partnered respectively with former SPPD Sgt. Ryan Smith and SPPD Officer John Coffelt.

One of the dogs welcomed to the unit was Hozy, named for donor Hozy’s Grill.

“Throughout these years I want to thank everyone for their support, without the citizens and the businesses,” there would not be a K9 unit.

And, noted Haumann “I have to thank the Santa Paula Police Department for the best five years,” he spent with Hozy as his partner, still close friend and roommate.

Sgt. Scott Varner — whose K9 Chevy is also retired — noted the contributions of the community to the K9 Unit as well as the work of the Inglis family including Dave and Debbie and their son Daniel, who help obtain and then train K9s.

“Without them we would not be where we are today,” especially considering their ability to not only help obtain and train K9s but also create handler partnerships. 

“That’s Debbie’s job, to pair the dogs with the officers to make sure his personality and our personality” mesh, and she is an excellent matchmaker.

“Their support,” Varner added, “means a lot to the us and the program.”

Johnson said the dogs require 200 to 240 hours of training with their handler to be street worthy and obtain state POST certification, then more training is required for narcotics detection, hard-surface tracking and other attributes.

He introduced Senior Officer Allen Macias who just finished the five-week training course with the SPPD’s newest K9, Ace.

The 3-year-old German Shepard did well in training as did Macias, who noted, “Now we see eye-to-eye,” and are more than ready for police duty.

A duty-ready K9 comes at a “substantial expense” said Johnson: the basic cost of the dog is about $9,000, training can be $15,000, discounted veterinarian costs are still pricy and the dogs must be fed and maintained. 

Johnson said the city budgets little for the program and the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation is a vitally important funding source for the program. 

Police Chief Steve McLean thanked the volunteers and recognized the SPP&FF and noted former Mayor Rick Cook was the SPPD’s first K9 Officer (partnered in 1981 with Bronco). 

He lauded Haumann and noted some of the accomplishments that earned him the Officer of the Year honor, but said he was reluctant to let Macias leave the Detective Unit to partner with a K9.

“I said no at first,” but he realized Macias “deserves it…”

McLean spoke of his own experiences with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office where K9s captured criminals, noting, “I have so much respect for the dogs!”

Debbie Johnson was pleased with the results of the evening from the strong attendance — including 60 guests who purchased tickets at the door — and popular raffle to the support shown by all for the K9 Unit.

But she noted, “I really want to thank each and everyone of our sponsors! Without our sponsor dollars we would not be able to raise the kind of money,” that would make the K9 program viable.

Businesses were also generous in donating raffle items that spurred Explorer ticket selling and raised even more money for the K9 Unit.

Johnson was also pleased at the turnout of K9 handlers from other agencies.

The annual dinner, she added, is a “Great opportunity for the community to meet the dogs,” and realize how valuable they are to crime fighting and the community.

SPPD Detective Randy Haumann accepted the recognition for Hozy, his K9 partner of five years who was lauded at the April 29 6th Annual K9 Spaghetti Dinner.

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