By Ricki Draper, Havoc K9 Executive Director
It’s time. He knew it from the subtle way his partner shifted his breathing. The excitement builds as he watches his partner don the shiny black boots and adjusts the gold on his chest. The containment is almost too much to bear and soft whimpers escape as he eyes the door; ready to burst through it to jump in his beloved truck and start the workday. Adventure and danger and community adoration lie ahead and he expresses his absolute joy with playfully impatient yips as the truck starts and they head out; confident in their abilities to back each other up in any situation they may find themselves in that night. Such is the life of a K9 and their adored officers.
In September 2001 I, along with my fellow countrymen and women, watched with absolute horror at the images of the fallen that day. In days to come I watched the heroic efforts of firefighters, search and rescue volunteers and police officers and their canine companions come together to piece together the broken. I knew something significant happened in my heart that would change the course of my life. Although I wasn’t sure what to do with this newfound resolve to make our country better, I knew I had to play my part.
A decade went by and I raised my family and climbed the ladder at my chosen profession but there was always something missing. A missed calling that was unfulfilled and as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 loomed, I knew now was the time to step up and help my community in a profound way. I married my absolute love of dogs with my husband’s profession as an officer and founded Havoc K9 in July 2011. Our mission is to provide well bred, highly socialized, mentally and physically sound dogs to law enforcement departments and other first responders at no cost to reduce the financial burden to them, to increase the ability of more departments to put canines into active service and to increase the effectiveness of departments through the use of highly trained canines.
We are unique in that our program has a well-organized puppy-raising program where puppies are placed in volunteer homes similar to organizations with dogs for the disabled. They are taught basic obedience, foundational scent detection and apprehension techniques. In 2012, I helped change the law in our state so that puppies in our program have the same public access rights as dogs for the disabled. We felt this was an important aspect to our program to ensure the puppies are positively exposed and socialized to many aspects of life. Doing so makes them well rounded as working dogs and removes fear and uncertainty in new situations.
Puppies are kept in their raiser homes for approximately one year until the time they are donated at no charge to their deserving departments. Many recipients of our dogs have budgetary constraints and cannot afford the $5,000-$15,000 price tag for a K9. Without our help, the K9 program may not exist and the public loses out on a valuable asset to the safety of their community.
The CANIDAE® Difference
In 2016, we were looking to change what we fed our working puppies. We noticed some dogs had continuous loose stools, dull coats and would often run out of energy quickly during strenuous training sessions. Although veterinary appointments did not uncover the reason, we suspected the nutrition was lacking in our dogs. Our Development Director performed extensive research and time and time again CANIDAE® dog food was reported on top. We tested the food on one of our dogs who had sensitive digestion and saw immediate results. Her stools were smaller, her coat was softer and more healthy-looking and boy did she have energy! After seeing positive results with this dog, we expanded the use of CANIDAE® with many other dogs in our program. We saw the same results with each dog we placed on this food. Their eyes were brighter, their coats were glossier, and their stools were smaller and well formed.
We noticed a marked difference in the dogs that were fed CANIDAE® from dogs fed another product when we worked them in apprehension sessions. Dogs had the energy to push through their fatigue, which allowed us to work them longer to build their stamina. In the field, when engaging a suspect, the dogs cannot afford to lose energy half way through the encounter. Danger exists to the dog and the officer and surrounding public if the dog is not able to perform his or her duties due to lack of stamina. CANIDAE® gives them the proper nutrition to complete the task at hand, which could mean the difference between coming home that night or not. How can you put a price on that?
These dogs are athletes in every sense of the word. They are our community’s protectors and have lives in their very capable paws. We owe it to them to give them the proper nutrition to grow to be amazing K9 partners, and CANIDAE® allows us to fulfill that need.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made a statement of, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” I am often fearful of moving forward with Havoc K9. There is a lot of responsibility in putting a solid foundation on a dog that could potentially save human lives, but the fear outweighs the need and that is what keeps us moving forward with confidence. With partners like CANIDAE® fueling our puppies, we are achieving great things and making all of our big dreams come true.
To learn more about Havoc K9, visit their website at www.havock9.com.