Today, the San Angelo Police Department is announcing the recent retirement of two Police Service Dogs from its ranks.  Considered “Dual Purpose Dogs”, Pepper and Reno were trained in patrol work, tracking, and narcotic interdiction.  After an 8½-year and 9½-year tenure and over 440 arrests, Pepper and Reno have traded their badges for a well-deserved life of leisure.

Pepper and Reno are both Belgian Malinois imported from Holland and later purchased by the department from the Hill Country Dog Center in Pipe Creek, Texas.

9½ year-old Pepper, handled by Sgt. David Egger, joined the SAPD in 2005.  11 year-old Reno, handled by Officer Howard Miller, joined the SAPD in 2004.  They leave behind a legacy that includes numerous drug seizures, criminal apprehensions, and the relationships they have made with many in the community who have attended one of their public demonstrations.  In addition to their service in the department, they also assisted the Department of Public Safety, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs Air/Marine, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office, as well as other neighboring local agencies on the execution of many search warrants and traffic stops over the years - locating hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs.

Career highlights:
Pepper- Made and/or assisted in 79 felony drug arrests, 96 other felony arrests, and 20 successful manhunts.  Pepper enjoyed competition and took home three medals at the Goodfellow AFB Police K9 Competition in 2009, including best in Patrol Apprehension.

Reno- Made and/or assisted in 89 felony drug arrests, 178 other felony arrests, and 67 successful manhunts.  Reno also took home one gold and three silver medals from the Texas Police Games back in 2006, as well as two third-place medals at the 2008 Goodfellow AFB Police K9 competition.

This is a bittersweet time for both Sgt. Egger and Officer Miller, the Unit’s longest standing dog handlers with nearly 19 years in K9.  While they developed lasting bonds with their partners, the time had come for their K9 partners to retire. “Their hearts are still in it, but their physical abilities are fading”, said Sgt. Egger.

Sgt. Egger and Officer Miller have two new K9 partners, which are currently in training and awaiting certification.  Sgt. Egger is training a 1½ year old Belgian Malinois named Duke, while Officer Miller is training a 2½yr old Dutch Shepherd named Thor.  The K9 Unit still has two certified dogs currently on the street and going strong at ages 7 and 8; however, their retirements are also on the horizon.  It takes a very special dog to become a Dual Purpose Police Service Dog and a rookie prospect costs about $9,000.  Though they can be ready for certification in a few months, it takes about one year for them to be capable of handling all situations.

The most common breeds in today’s law enforcement service are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherd.  The SAPD K9 Unit prefers the latter two due to their physical agility and longevity.

“The Dual Purpose Police Service Dog must fear no man, be confident, and be willing to work and maintain focus under extreme circumstances and under inconceivable distractions.  That kind of animal is no accident.  It comes from generations and generations of careful selective breeding in Holland and a dedicated training regimen.  We wish Pepper and Reno a peaceful retirement and hope Duke and Thor have an equally lengthy and prosperous career with the San Angelo Police Dept.” –Sgt. Egger

Both Pepper and Reno have retired to the homes of their respective handlers.

For information on how you can help support the SAPD K9 Unit visit www.sanangelopolice.org/page.php?kei=50 or mail donations directly to:
San Angelo Police Department c/o K9 Unit
Box 5020
San Angelo, Texas  76902
(All donations used exclusively to pay for new dogs, K9 related equipment, and K9 training.)