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K-9 Cop Shows Sweet Tooth at Swearing In

November 17, 1998|FRED ALVAREZ

The Police Department's newest canine cop, a 3-year-old German shepherd named Sagus, has trained for months to sniff out drugs and track down fugitives.

But put a slice of vanilla cake in front of him, and he's driven purely by instinct.

At a swearing-in ceremony Monday, Sagus licked a cake prepared in his honor before receiving his badge signaling official membership on the Ventura police force.

He is the department's third police dog on duty and already has joined his partner, Officer Tom Mendez, on patrol. Ventura has used 18 police dogs since beginning its K-9 program 15 years ago.

"We have a good group of dogs here," said Lt. David Inglis, who heads the department's canine program. "All of them are full of fire and ready to go."

Sagus is the first dog purchased by the Ventura Police Canine Foundation, a nonprofit group started a year ago.

That effort was boosted by memorial donations made on behalf of Robert Reed, a veteran Los Angeles policeman who volunteered in Ventura's detective bureau who died earlier this year.

Donations of more than $1,000 covered about half the cost of importing Sagus from Germany. Inglis' wife, trainer Debbie Inglis, put the pooch through the couple's police dog academy free of charge.

"My husband would have been so proud," said Phyllis Reed of Ventura, who attended Monday's ceremony. "And we're going to get some more [money], too."

Already, the foundation has raised enough to buy and train a fourth dog for the department, David Inglis said. However, it is about $30,000 short of the money needed to buy a new police car and equip it for canine travel.

Inglis said police dogs are a worthwhile investment.

"It saves the officers a lot of time whether it be searching a building for suspects or tracking lost kids," he said. "Those things can be done with fewer officers, and it gets the handlers back onto the street a lot quicker."

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