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Sheriff’s K-9 team 16 paws and 8 feet stronger

The Reporter (Vacaville) logo The Reporter (Vacaville) 5/12/2020 Kimberly K. Fu
a man holding a dog: Solano County Sheriff's deputy, Mike Ferrando sends his partner, Ty, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois to search a room for narcotics during a recent training exercise. Ferrando and Ty are one of the newest members of the sheriff's office canine unit. (Joel Rosenbaum -- The Reporter) © Provided by The Reporter (Vacaville) Solano County Sheriff's deputy, Mike Ferrando sends his partner, Ty, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois to search a room for narcotics during a recent training exercise. Ferrando and Ty are one of the newest members of the sheriff's office canine unit. (Joel Rosenbaum -- The Reporter)

Calm, cool and collected, four members of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office are putting their best paws forward as the newest members of the K-9 team.

In recent weeks, Wall-E (and Correctional Officer Kelly McKown), Max (and Deputy Dalton McCampbell), Ty (and Deputy Mike Ferrando) and Kev (and Deputy Randy Pratt) have hit the streets, joining veterans Grizz (and Deputy Mark Demarest) and Ted (and Deputy Ryan Wallace) in keeping the community safe.

Handlers said they underwent extensive training in everything from narcotics detection (for methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin) to handler protection to suspect apprehension and more.

Wall-E, as the jail dog, is also trained to detect marijuana. He also alerts on cell phones.

There was even intensive training in partner bonding which, judging from affectionate behavior at a recent group training session, was more than successful.

a person sitting at a desk in front of a mirror: Solano County Sheriff’s deputy, Dalton McCampbell rewards his partner, Max, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois after he successfully completed a narcotics search during a recent training exercise.(Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter) © Provided by The Reporter (Vacaville) Solano County Sheriff’s deputy, Dalton McCampbell rewards his partner, Max, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois after he successfully completed a narcotics search during a recent training exercise.(Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter)

Gathered inside a facility near the Clay Bank Jail in Fairfield, sheriff’s K-9 teams trained with teams from Dixon, Rio Vista and Benicia.

All are trained by Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Waller, who helped found the Sheriff’s K-9 Unit in 2002.

The dogs, Waller said, are all people-friendly and able to move fluidly throughout the community for events such as demonstrations at schools.

“They’re doing good,” Waller shared. “I’m very happy.”

The canines also all have that “special something,” that spark that makes them great police dogs, he said.

The better to serve the community, apparently.

Take Ty.

During his second week on patrol, the 1 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois already hit paydirt.

“He found a suspect last weekend,” advised Deputy Mike Ferrando, fondly petting the dog behind his ears. “The suspect foot-bailed and was hiding in a garage.”

The man was subsequently taken into custody.

The partnership, Ferrando said, has been great thus far. With the Sheriff’s Office for nearly six years, he said there’s still much to learn. Having a teammate to grow with, he continued, is amazing.

“And I grew up with dogs,” he said. “I love dogs.”

Wall-E is the lone Labrador Retriever mix.

“He’s a rescue,” said Correctional Officer Kelly McKown.

The 3-year-old chocolate lab patrols the jails. He’s alert and fleet-footed and eager. His job done, after sniffing out three hidden drug packets during training, Wall-E happily chewed on his reward — his squeaky toy.

a dog sitting in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Wall-E, a Labrador Retriever mix sits as he waits for a sign from his handler, Solano County Correctional Officer Kelly McKown after finding narcotics during a recent training exercise. The canine is a rescue and assigned with McKown to work the jails and is trained to detect marijuana and cell phones.(Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter) © Provided by The Reporter (Vacaville) Wall-E, a Labrador Retriever mix sits as he waits for a sign from his handler, Solano County Correctional Officer Kelly McKown after finding narcotics during a recent training exercise. The canine is a rescue and assigned with McKown to work the jails and is trained to detect marijuana and cell phones.(Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter)

“He’s a great dog,” McKown said. “He’s my best bud. Always wants to play.”

Waller agreed.

“He’ll do anything for the ball,” he said.

Max, who celebrates his second birthday in July, has already achieved one milestone. That is, he’s joined the SWAT team with Deputy Dalton McCampbell, an achievement it usually takes years to accomplish.

As well, a Fairfield woman who loves dogs has already bought him a $1,500 bulletproof vest. The better to protect him when he’s on duty, she told Waller.

Kev and his partner, Deputy Randy Pratt, have meshed well, Pratt acknowledged. As his former partner, Hondo, enjoyed retirement, the dog also kept a watchful eye on the Pratt household’s newest resident. Just as Kev completed his training and was ready for duty earlier this month, the 16-year-old Hondo died.

Pratt said the timing of the passing of his beloved longtime partner was no coincidence. Hondo knew Kev was ready to take his place with the Sheriff’s team.

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“He gave his blessing,” Pratt said. “He passed the baton.”

The Reporter wishes Hondo a fond farewell for his many years of service and welcomes the new members of the K-9 team.

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