The football stadium of Provo High School was used for a purpose other than sports on Saturday, Sept. 8, when the Utah Peace Officers Association held a portion of their annual K9 trials.
The K9 trials were a competition where 34 teams from across the state competed for a trophy prize and bragging rights in various events including tactical obedience, agility, aggressive handler protection and apprehension.
“This is an event for all K9s in Utah to be able to come out and to be able to demonstrate all sorts of skills,” said Chamberlin Neff, Utah Highway Patrol corporal and K9 officer. “For instance, building searching, area searching, narcotics and explosive searching, search and rescue, we have blood hounds come out and track and do all sorts of events to demonstrate their abilities.”
Saturday was just one day in a week long string of events for K9s employed in Utah to participate in and demonstrate their skill set in the variety of tactical programs currently in use.
According to Utah Sheriff Jim Winder, the dogs donate a good portion of their lives from the time they are puppies to when they are full-grown adults and continue in their career until they reach a common retirement age.
“Some of the dogs donate anywhere from five to six years,” Winder said. “That is a lot of energy and time to get five or six years out of one particular dog, and a lot of money and effort goes into it. They never want to work the dogs too long so that they don’t injure themselves.”
The event on Saturday and all the events during the week offered a rare opportunity. The training officers and their dogs had time to bond without the regular pressures of a typical work day.
It was also a good practice for the various agencies to hone skills and learn new techniques with an opportunity for some competition.
“The main goal obviously is a competition,” said Neff. “But there is a lot of training that goes into this event prior than today or this week. There is years of training and concentrated training in the last few months to master obstacles like these.”
The event Saturday carried a special uplifting factor. All of the money and donations gathered go towards a K9 officer with cancer.
“As part of the K9 trials, the Utah Peace Officer Association will have T-shirts and other items available for purchase,” said Sergeant Brandon Post from the Provo Police in a recent press release. “All of the proceeds from items purchased will go to benefit Unified Police K9 Officer Angie Martin, who has been diagnosed with cancer.”