Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer introduced Nuke, the department’s new tracking dog, on Tuesday, June 24, during the regular business meeting of the Monroe City Council. The 2-year-old German shepherd, who completed his 420 hours of training in April, is partnered with handler Officer Jason Southard.
“Nuke has already been on several incidents that required a tracking dog,” said Quenzer. “He has also visited some community events and has been a big hit with the children.”
Southard, who has been with the Monroe Police Department since 1996, picked up Nuke during the last week of January and the two began attending the K9 academy together within a few days. They were able to fill an available slot with the Seattle Police Department’s police-dog academy.
“I’m deeply appreciative to them,” said Southard, who explained that not only was he able to complete Nuke’s basic training with the SPD, but he will also be able to participate in follow-up training. “They’ve opened their doors for continuing training, so I go monthly for scenarios. Those scenarios I can’t replicate here.”
Southard recently performed “simunitions” with the SPD which are instructional exercises utilizing non-lethal training ammunition. He explained that the SPD has the available manpower to be able to provide this sort of training on a much broader scale than they could do in Monroe.
“For them to keep those doors open for us is a pretty cool thing,” said Southard.
Nuke is a 28-month-old pure bred German shepherd. He is originally from Germany, so his commands are spoken in German. The name Nuke came straight from Southard, who, as an enthusiastic baseball fan, wanted to name him after one of the characters in the movie Bull Durham.
“His full name is Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh,” said Southard. In the film, the LaLoosh character, a young rookie pitcher, was played by Tim Robbins.
Southard has been peripherally involved with the K9 unit for many years. He was the officer initially involved in training K9 Joker, who retired from the department in May. K9 Joker served eight years with Officer Jake Carswell, serving with the Monroe Police Department for a total of nine years.
Additionally, Southard served the department’s K9 unit as a “quarry.” Essentially, a quarry participates in K9 training exercises by wearing a protective bite sleeve and impersonating a suspect. He explained that being a quarry really made him aspire to someday become part of a K9 team.
“(A) quarry is the bad guy. It’s when you volunteer to wear the sleeve and go hide in the woods, and basically just be the guy that gets beat up all the time,” said Southard. “Frankly your hope is that someday you’ll get this chance.”
Nuke and Officer Southard have already been involved in a couple of “tracks,” or suspect pursuits, and one capture. The capture occurred on May 22 in Monroe after officers were alerted to an abandoned residence by a concerned neighbor. The neighbor reported that he had observed a man and a woman entering the home, and had also noticed a red motorcycle in the driveway. Once officers arrived on the scene, they observed the male suspect attempting to run away. Southard brought out Nuke, who was immediately ready to charge.
“I told him that if he continued running I would release the dog,” said Southard. “He looked back and made a very quick decision that that wasn’t the route he wanted to go.”
Both suspects gave up and were taken into custody. The red motorcycle, which officers located in the garage, turned out to be stolen. They also recovered a substantial amount of narcotics, some cash, and a handgun.
To Southard, in addition to being a great partner, Nuke has been a welcome addition at his home, becoming tightly bonded with his young daughter. Thus far, Officer Southard has found his work with Nuke to be tremendously rewarding, and he sees great promise in the young dog’s future.
“He’s gaining that confidence and that understanding of the job every day. Every track, he gets a little better,” said Southard. “It’s been fun to watch him grow.”
Officer Southard, a 19-year department veteran, was honored with the “Lifesaving Award” in 2014 for administering lifesaving aid to an adult male during a 911 medical call. In 2013 he was awarded a Letter of Commendation for a drowning incident which occurred at Lake Tye Park in 2012. During the incident, Southard entered the lake in search of the victim and also assisted the family at the hospital later in the day.
Southard and Nuke work a set schedule, but are also on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He commented that being able to be on scene as quickly as possible is something that is extremely important to him.
“It’s something I take pride in,” said Southard. “I always want to be ready.”
Recently, when responding to a call, Southard and Nuke were able to arrive on scene within approximately eight minutes of receiving the initial call.
“It’s something that’s important to me because the time delay is one of the most critical things with K9s,” said Southard.
Nuke’s introduction was highlighted by a presentation from Dr. Shawn Buchholz of the Cascade Animal Clinic in Monroe. Buchholz became motivated to help support the city’s K9 program after starting a campaign to raise money to equip emergency service providers with oxygen masks for cats and dogs. The oxygen mask initiative morphed into a larger fundraising effort when a local resident and client named Eric Binder approached the clinic with the idea of purchasing a bulletproof vest for one of the city’s K9 dogs.
Bulletproof vests for dogs are costly at around $1,200, or more, per vest, and it is typically difficult for police departments to afford them. When Buchholz approached the department they informed her that the timing couldn’t be better. They had one K9 retiring and their new tracking dog would be starting soon.
Cascade Animal Clinic set up a donation jar and received many donations from their clients as well as Binder. With the help of Cathi Tower, President of Myownly Boarding Kennel, located in Monroe, they soon had the funds to purchase the custom-made bulletproof vest.
Dr. Buchholz presented Nuke with the vest herself.
“I would like to present Nuke with his new protection device,” said Buchholz. “May he never actually need it.”
Nuke, who has already visited a couple of the local schools, will make his first official community appearance with Officer Southard sometime in August at Monroe’s National Night Out event at Lake Tye Park.
“Nuke is truly a community dog as a great deal of the funds used to purchase him came from a citywide K9 campaign, as well as donations from the faith community and individuals,” said Chief Quenzer.