Tag Archives: zar

Zar’s last shift: News-Ledger rides along

‘Zar’ the police dog with his human partner, Officer Roger Kinney, respond to a call Friday night. It was the dog’s final shift. (Photo by Eric Harding, News-Ledger)

‘Zar’ the police dog with his human partner, Officer Roger Kinney, respond to a call Friday night. It was the dog’s final shift. (Photo by Eric Harding, News-Ledger)


By News-Ledger Staff

One of the most popular members of West Sacramento’s police department has put in his last shift.

After over six years of service, police dog “Zar” has gone home to become a family dog in the home of his former handler, Sergeant Roger Kinney. Kinney was recently promoted from “Officer” to “Sergeant,” and he will now move into a role supervising the W.S.P.D.’s supervisory unit.

Zar is a Dutch shepherd. He’s a former rescue dog – unusual in his line of work – and  has participated in around 200 searches and succeeded in finding drugs about 50 times, reports Kinney.  When he “has a good day” by finding drugs during a search, Zar been rewarded with a “Six Dollar Burger” from Carl’s Junior.

The News-Ledger’s Eric Harding rode along with Kinney and Zar on their last shift together on West Sacramento’s streets on Friday night.


The K9 unit of Officer Kinney and Zar joins officers in answering a report of a man “brandishing a machete.” The officers came to believe the report was unfounded. (Photo by Eric Harding/www.ebharding.com)

The K9 unit of Officer Kinney and Zar joins officers in answering a report of a man “brandishing a machete.” The officers came to believe the report was unfounded. (Photo by Eric Harding/www.ebharding.com)

Kinney and Zar have been through a lot together. Remember that one-man crime spree that closed the Yolo Causeway for several hours in April, 2012? The gunman put a bullet hole in their car – but the shot missed Zar and Kinney.

And Zar is also popular on the school circuit: he’s won a legion of young fans by visiting local schools and interacting with local kids.

Zar's Last shift  The News-Ledger has reported on Zar several times in recent years.  There’s a very brief video of the dog in a training exercise on WestSac.com, at http://www.westsac.com/blog/2011/12/06/video-west-sac-police-dog-zar-in-action/


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New K9 training facility open


Dogs practice climbing over & around obstacles — and taking on the ‘bad guys’ —

On command, the police dog goes after handler Nick Barreiro, who is wearing protective clothing. The officer will shortly be looking for a police dog of his own, as he is scheduled to become a K9 team member in 2012. (Photo by ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding.com)

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Police dog teams from the region celebrated the opening of a new West Sacramento K9 agility training course on Nov. 30 with a demonstration of their dogs’ skills.

The dog training park is at a fenced, grassy facility on Oak Street, near Home Depot. And it features refurbished equipment largely thanks to the Wyotech auto repair trade school in town, which turned the needed metalwork into something of a class project.

Officer Roger Kinney – partner of “Zar,” the Dutch shepherd – said the whole project cost upward of $20,000, and took a lot longer than he expected.

“There are 14 pieces of equipment, including ladder-climb, wall jumps, a teeter-totter to test balance, culverts to walk through, barrels to jump over – these are things similar to what these dogs may encounter on the street,” said Kinney. “We put down 6,000 square feet of sod, and it’s fenced, with cameras around. I started this in October of 2010 and thought it would take two months to do, but it took 13 months.”

FAR LEFT: Zar bounds off a barrel on the new agility training course for K9s in West Sacramento (Photo by ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding.com)

The property belongs to the city (part of a public works operation) and it used to be a grassy field with old K9 training equipment on it. The land was graded and sodded, with sprinklers and Trex decking material added where needed. The old equipment was disassembled, rebuilt, sandblasted and powdercoated.


“We didn’t skimp on anything,” said Kinney. “It’s the nicest agility course in the whole area. When I’m retired as a dog handler, it will still be going strong.”

Who will maintain the training facility?

“The field is maintained by the Department of Probation – people arrested for drunk driving and so forth come out once every couple of weeks and mow it and keep it nice.”

Kinney and Zar are one of two K9 teams currently on duty in West Sacramento. The other team is made up of Officer Dave Stallions and “Champ” – who are scheduled to cycle out of K9 duty to be replaced by Officer Nick Ferrero and a dog yet to be selected.

“We go to any calls of violence, whenever a K9 is on duty,” explained Kinney. “Certainly, we go to any call with a weapon involved. The dogs can locate somebody who is hiding, and they can run very fast if the suspect decides to flee that way. I live in West Sacramento, so if something happens (when I’m off-duty) I can usually be anywhere in the city with Zar in around ten minutes.”

“When a suspect is hiding, we make an announcement when we show up,” added Kinney. “We’ll say ‘Police K9 is here – come out now or get bit.’ Only about five to ten percent of the people decide to get bit by a dog. Fully 90 or 95 percent that are hiding will come out and surrender.”

Zar – who happens to be a mild-mannered socialite when not chasing a bad guy – his trained for other duties, as well.

“Are you sure he’s a police dog?” is a question Officer Kinney is used to hearing, after Zar starts schmoozing with the public. Here he gets some face time with a young student at Bridgeway Island Elementary School. Unlike some K9s, Zar doesn’t need a muzzle to mingle. (photo by Ruth Pagano, West Sacramento Police Department)

Zar will search houses and cars to find drugs,” added Kinney. “He can also locate evidence – if somebody tosses a gun in the bushes, he can look for that.”

It was apparent watching work at the demonstration on Nov. 30 that Zar was having fun, going after a “suspect” in a padded suit with joy, a wagging tail, and obvious relish.

“It is absolutely a game to them,” said Kinney. “But Zar does know the difference between work and play. I would say he just gets more excited when it’s real. Once, he had a guy beat him really bad with a stick, opening a wound on his head. I had to take him to the vet – but Zar’s tail was still wagging, as if to say, ‘I’m OK!’”

K9 exercises at the new training field in West Sacramento (photo by Eric Harding)

Above, left-right: Jimmy Sandison, who regularly helps Sacramento police and just graduated from the academy; Sacramento PD Officer Aaron Thompson and K-9 Hutch; Sacramento Officer Randy VanDusen and K-9 Bodie; Corning PD Ofc. Jeremiah Fears and K-9 Oso; West Sacramento Officer Nick Barrerio, who will become a K9 handler in January; West Sacramento K-9 Officer Roger Kinney and K-9 Zar; West Sacramento K-9 Officer Dave Stallions and K-9 Chance (Stallions will become a School Resource Officer shortly) (photo by ERIC HARDING)

Photo by Eric Harding

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Copyright News-Ledger 2011

Police dogs to compete in West Sac

Sacramento police dog "Bodie" latches onto an officer's decoy training sleeve during a training exercise last week in Discovery Park. West Sacramento's two K-9 teams join other teams in the Sacramento region for regular training, both in West Sacramento and in other parts of the region. They train both outdoors and inside structures. Photo by ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding.com


JUNE 15, 2011

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento police dogs “Zar” and “Chance” will have a chance to show off their skills in competition on Saturday, and you’re invited to watch.

West Sacramento K-9 officer Roger Kinney (Zar’s partner) is chief organizer of the “2011 Lawdogs Challenge,” to be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at River City High. Those who show up around 11-1 can check out demonstrations from local firefighters and SWAT teams (including a “Peacekeeper” armored vehicle) as well as U.S. Marine vehicles. A veterinary doctor can answer your questions about dog health. The “protection” element of the day’s dog team competition is scheduled for about 12:30-1.

Kinney and fellow West Sac K-9 officer Dave Stallions are part of the squad that is setting up the competition, so they will only enter the events unofficially. But visiting teams from all over will face a variety of challenges, beginning with a closed event on Friday evening.

The Friday night part of the competition will test the ability of trained dogs to find hidden narcotics.

“We’re going to have basically a Greyhound bus with five ‘finds’ hidden on it, and each dog will have to find all five finds within a time limit,” said Kinney.


Officer Roger Kinney with his partner Zar (at left), and Officer Dave Stallions with Chance Photo by ERIC HARDING

Saturday will find the dogs and their human partners dealing with other challenges, like obstacle courses and protection from foam-padded “bad guys.”

“There are things the dogs will have to go through and jump over,” said Kinney. “They’re judged not only on whether they do it, which they should, but whether they touch equipment they’re not supposed to.”

And there may be some intentional distractions during the competition, designed to test the dogs’ discipline and concentration.

Zar – Kinney’s canine partner – is smaller than some people would expect.

“Zar is a five-year old Dutch Shepherd,” said Kinney. “A lady in Hollywood bought him when he was three months old, and he kept nipping her. So she had him neutered, but he still nipped, and she decided she couldn’t keep him. But he passed all 13 of our tests.”

Being a K-9 officer is a responsibility that doesn’t end when the team’s shift comes to a conclusion.

“He lives at home, hangs out on my couch, plays with my kids – he’s probably the best-disposed animal of the 24 dogs we train with,” Kinney told the News-Ledger.

When triggered, he can be “leaning out the car window snarling and frothing at the mouth,” said Kinney, but when gently introduced to strangers – including classrooms full of kids – “he often rolls over on his back.”

“After meeting him, people often ask, ‘are you sure he’s a police dog?” said Kinney.

But Zar is smart and may live longer than some of his larger cousins such as German shepherds. And he has a lot of presence for a 55-pounder.

“He had one (suspect) try to crush his head and another was beating him with a stick – it tore off his dew claw and opened his head. It looked real bad, but he was all right. Afterward, the guy was saying that this must have been a 110-pound dog.”

Zar is trained to find hiding suspects, drugs,  and anything that people have recently dropped.

Once, last year, a fleeing suspect jumped into a West Sacramento waterway trying to escape, and Zar was turned loose to find the man. Zar was seen swimming with something with a “Batman” emblem in his mouth. Kinney thought the dog was shirking his duty, and told him to get back to work. Zar picked up the item again. It turned out that Zar had latched on to the Batman-style underwear worn by the deceased suspect, who was just underwater. The man had apparently broken his neck diving into shallow water.

Sacramento police officer Steve Thomsen has a word with his dog, "Crash." Police dogs are owned by the police agency, but cared for by their human partners. Some jurisdictions -- like West Sacramento -- have made it legal for an injured police dog to be transported to a veterinary facility by local ambulance. Photo by ERIC HARDING

The other local police dog, “Chance,” is specially trained to find explosives with partner Dave Stallions.

The group regularly trains with other regional K-9 teams, practicing their skills in parks and buildings around the Sacramento area.

You can find more information on the local K-9 squad at www.wsk9.org or on Facebook.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2011