Fundraiser at Gerrards helps boost Redlands police K9 Unit;’ Duke’ makes debut

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duke_mainduke_biteRedlands Police Department’s newest officer showed off his apprehension skills Saturday.

Making his official debut, Duke, the two-year-old 70-pound male German shepherd, displayed how he helps take a bit out of crime during a fundraising event in support of RPD’s K9 program at Gerrards Market.

Barking excitedly and standing at attention while waiting for the command from his partner, Ofc. Joseph Valdivia, Duke was ready to put on a show for a bite demonstration.

The command was given, and Duke sped off to catch “the bad guy” — a police officer in a bite suit.

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“The type of training necessary for Duke to successfully do his job is why events like these are so important,” said Valdivia. “Not only do we get to show how Duke does his job, but it’s an opportunity to educate the public about the K9 program. Without the community, we wouldn’t have a program.”

Proceeds from Saturday’s event, which included a beer garden, auction items and vendor booths, will support Duke’s ongoing training along with veterinary visits. Since 2008, ongoing training, medical costs, equipment and lodging for the department’s K-9s have been supported entirely by private donations with no cost to the city’s General Fund.

A total raised from Saturday’s event was not immediately available.

Duke joined the RPD K-9 force in June and was the second dog on the team, until Chewy, the program’s drug sniffing K-9 recently retired.

The police department is currently in the process of building a specialized vehicle equipped with a cage, air-conditioning and modified sensors which will be used to transport Duke while he is in service. The hope is to also raise enough money to purchase an additional K9 for the program, Valdivia said.

city’s General Fund.

The Redlands Police Department accepts direct donations to the K-9 program. Donations may be made out to the City of Redlands, attention Police Canine Fund, tax ID number 95-6000766, P.O. Box 3005 Redlands, CA 92373.

Donations (cash or check) may also be delivered to the Redlands Police Department at 1270 W. Park Avenue in Redlands.

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