Hillsboro Police Department recently purchased a new detection dog with help from local donors. Zara, a Dutch Shepherd, fills a vacancy left by the retirement of Rico, a Belgian Malinois in September.
“Rico’s a pet now,” officer Brad Richards said Monday.
Zara is still in training for specific environments like homes, vehicles, and schools, but she has already received her narcotics detection certification. She will eventually be trained in all of the skills Rico had, including handler protection/aggression control, evidence recovery, and tracking, Richards said.
Zara was one of 16 puppies in her litter, bred with a pedigree of successful police dogs, Richards said. She occasionally does training with one of her littermates in Junction City.
“She’s progressing very nicely, and their trainer has a lot of confidence in her,” he said.
For handler protection and aggression control, Richards gives Zara commands in a language other than English — just like he did with Rico — so potentially dangerous foes won’t understand what he’s saying. The difference is that Rico’s commands were in German, and Zara’s commands are in Czech, he said.
Zara has a mostly black coat with a subtle peanut-butter-colored striped pattern, called a brindle. Based on seeing Zara’s mother, Richards said he expects his canine partner has a lot of growing left to do.
Donations that made it possible to purchase Zara came from a wide variety of sources.
Hillsboro Community Foundation, The Lumberyard, Concrete Products, Marion County Attorney’s Office, Hillsboro LEO Club, Marion County Special Alcohol Fund, Countryside Feed, LLC, Hillsboro Evening Lions Club, Ampride-Cooperative Grain & Supply, Hillsboro Kiwanis Club, Roger and Cynthia Fleming, Golden Heritage Foods, L. Cole, Inc. dba Midwest Distributors, Lonn and Bev Richards, and Paulene Greenhaw.