On Feb. 20, the Oro Valley Police Department gained four new legs, but only one new officer with the welcoming of Diesel, the new canine, to the force.
Diesel joins two other canine officers at OVPD in a special K-9 Unit responsible for handling searches for narcotics, people and bombs. According to the department, K-9 teams participate in regular training exercises to maintain their high level of expertise in their specialized field.
Diesel, born in the Czech Republic, is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois who came from Adlerhorst International, a provider of security and police dogs. Diesel works alongside Officer Kevin Peterson, a 10-year veteran of the OVPD.
“The dogs are good for explosives detection, as well as area searches,” said OVPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Carmen Treviso. “But they’re specifically good with smelling drugs and people.”
Diesel joins a more than 25 year history of Oro Valley police dogs. The department used Diesel for the first time Feb. 21 while pursuing an armed robber. Diesel was able to smell and locate some of the suspect’s discarded clothes and point officers in the correct direction.
“Some officers even have difficulty remembering the dogs are a tool, not a person,” Trevizo said.
But how Diesel joined the team is just as unique as the role he’ll play on the team. Diesel was donated to OVPD by local realtor Lisa Bayless. In a campaign to give back to the community, Bayless paid the $12,000 pricetag for the canine officer.
“I do a large amount of business in Oro Valley, and had been looking to support something larger that would benefit everyone in Oro Valley,” said Bayless, who works with Long Realty Company’s Oro Valley office. “Oro Valley has been very good to me, and I wanted to give back.”
When Bayless found out a member of OVPD’s canine unit was retiring, she saw her opportunity. While initially paying the bill with some of her future real estate listings, Bayless will earn that money back on commissions through her “Dog House” listings. These are a series of properties that will be specially sold with the OVPD K-9 Unit in mind, dog-themed lawn sign and all.
“For the listings, the home has to be in Oro Valley, and I want to focus on sellers who have a dog, or are major dog enthusiasts, or are supporters of law enforcement,” Bayless said. “I already have one seller ready. They’re just over the moon that part of the sale will help.”
Diesel joined OVPD in November 2018, but was only introduced last week at an Oro Valley council session once he completed training.
“One of the reasons people move to Oro Valley is because it’s a safe town,” Bayless said. “The Oro Valley police obviously play a large role in creating a safe environment for all residents to enjoy. I was happy to support their efforts because I love Oro Valley and I love dogs.”
Thanks to an additional $3,000 donation by the Canyon Del Oro Kennel Club, Diesel was able to complete his rigorous 12 week training regiment, and is now certified in the areas of narcotics detection, suspect apprehension, building searches and area searches. Over the last eight years, the CDO Kennel Club has donated over $16,000 to the OVPD K-9 program.
Diesel takes the place of Canine Emerson on the OVPD roster. Emerson served with OVPD since 2011, but was relieved of duty in 2018 due to age and health. He is now enjoying retirement at the home of Officer Peterson.
Diesel’s arrival brings the unit “up to full strength,” alongside Canine Officers Bruno and Justin, who have worked in the OVPD since 2013 and 2017, respectively.