In the past few months, Columbia residents may have noticed a new addition to the Columbia Police Department – a furry, tail-wagging one.
Daggo is the CPD’s new police dog, and he spends his days on patrol with new K-9 officer Zach Hopkins.
In May 2013, the department’s first police dog, Cezar, passed away from kidney failure. He had been a part of the department for eight years and had assisted on drug cases, search warrants, missing persons and other criminal investigations with handling officer Josh Bayer.>>>
The search for a new police dog began immediately, but in order to purchase a dog with the skills and experience necessary for the department, the community had to pull together to raise the money.
At the end of summer, Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said $17,000 was needed for the fund, and the department already had $7,000 in donations and pledges at that time.
A mouse races fundraiser in late October helped pull together the final portion of the funds needed to bring Daggo to Columbia, and he and Hopkins started on duty right after Thanksgiving.
Daggo, who is 22 months old, came all the way from Czechoslovakia to be a part of the CPD.
His father was a world champion Schutzhund dog, which means he was bred to be a protection dog and was trained in police work.
“He has a very good bloodline,” Hopkins said. “(Daggo) takes his commands in German.”
Hopkins said that although he had learned some German while attending Waterloo High School, he had to re-learn a bit to be able to properly communicate with Daggo.
“The community likes having a police dog around,” Hopkins said. “The respect he commands when he shows up on a call is tremendous.”
Hopkins, who was previously a patrol officer with the CPD, got into the role of K-9 officer after talking to Sgt. Bayer and Sgt. Jim Lansing of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
“They both encouraged me and said it was an awesome op
portunity,” he said. “It was something I just didn’t want to pass up.”
He went to Evansville, Ind., for six weeks in mid-October to be trained as a K-9 officer.
Hopkins said it has been a lot of work and a lot of patience since Daggo is so young, but the experience has been great so far.
“It’s been just fantastic,” he said. “It’s nice having a companion for the 12 hours we work together. He’s a very good, alert dog… definitely keeps me on my toes.”
So far, Daggo has been able to assist on building and car searches, along with the rash of residential and car burglaries in town during the Christmas holiday.
“He’s very driven and always willing to go to work,” Hopkins said. “He’s been a great asset already.”
Daggo is with Hopkins 24-7, and is very good with his two young children when they’re at home.
“He’s both an excellent work dog and an excellent family dog,” Hopkins said. “It’s in sickness and in health, just like a marriage.”