The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit was established in 1989 with three K-9s assigned to the Patrol Division, trained in either narcotic and explosives detection, deputy protection, suspect apprehension, riot control and other high risk activities required by the patrol offiers.

Each K-9 is assigned to one specific deputy and lives with that deputy and his family for four to six years until the K-9 retires. When the K-9 retires from service, the deputy has the first option to keep the K-9 as his pet. Lifelong bonds are formed between these specially trained, loyal dogs and their handlers.

We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping to keep our community safe.

“My eyes are your eyes, to watch and protect you and yours. My ears are your ears, to hear and detect evil minds in the dark. My nose is your nose, to scent the invader of your domain. And so you may live, my life is also yours.”

K-9 Zoos (2010-2022) A Tribute to Zoos, by Lieutenant Todd Tucker

Few will ever understand the profound bond between a K-9 and his handler. Zoos was truly my best friend, and during those long nights on duty, he was my sounding board. Most weeks, I spent more time with him than with my own family. Zoos' best quality was his eyes - they always shared his feelings. You could look at them and know exactly what was on his mind; they were the secret to his next move. Oh, the many great memories I have of him.

I will never forget the night he made his first apprehension. The suspect kidnapped a woman and was assaulting her while driving down the road at three in the morning. We had no idea this was occurring when we made that traffic stop; not until the victim fell out of the car and started yelling and running toward me. Not knowing what was happening, I honestly thought she was coming to kill me with the look in her eyes. I popped Zoos' emergency door open as the female came at me, and I was so focused on her that I never saw the suspect jump out of the vehicle- but Zoos did. By the time I figured out what was happening, Zoos was already in pursuit of the suspect who had a huge head start.

I ran after them and Zoos kept looking back at me as if to say, "Hurry your fat-self up! We got work to do!" The suspect eventually hid behind a concrete pillar and I lost sight of him in the darkness.

I told Zoos to go get him and that I would catch up, and he did exactly that. A few moments later, I heard the scream - Zoos got him. As I ran up, the suspect was hitting Zoos with everything he had. Zoos held onto that suspect with everything he had. At that moment, I could see it in his eyes: he was doing his job, and he was doing it for me. That was when I learned the secret to those eyes - they told me everything I needed to know. In the heat of the moment, his eyes said, "Can I get a little help here, Dad?" We took that guy into custody, and from that day on, our bond was sealed.

Zoos was goofy, terribly allergic to all the trees in the State of Colorado, and absolutely hated having his feet touched. He was a gentle giant, yet he walked with pride like the King of the Jungle. To say my family is going to miss him is an understatement. We lost a member of our family. We lost a sweet boy that would not have thought twice about trading his life for ours or anybody else who needed his help. He was a loyal partner and companion, and I will never forget everything he did for me and so many others.

Zoos, may you not itch anymore, and for lord's sake, I hope no one touches your feet in heaven, pal.

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K-9 Atlas (2011-2023)The Best Partner I Could Ask For, by Detective Tyler Morris

I remember when I first met him. We tested many dogs before we learned about Atlas. The facility said he was a great dog but was getting passed over because he was a year older than the other dogs. It was clear when we first started testing him that he was special.

Throughout K-9 school, I felt good about myself — I didn't struggle like other students did with their dogs. I later realized that it wasn't me that was good — it was all Atlas. He was born to be a police K-9.

He had numerous apprehensions and narcotics finds throughout his career. Once, he tracked a suspect for over a mile before finally apprehending him in a wooded park. Another time, I “door popped” him out of the cruiser when a stabbing suspect started fighting another Deputy and me. Atlas clamped onto the suspect's leg and wouldn't let go, even when he kicked Atlas several times in the head. His determination amazed me.

Atlas had a calm demeanor and always seemed to know when it was time to get to work or when it was time to be a dog. He was very social and would greet everyone with a special nudge to the sensitive parts. I'm sure he thought he was saying, You're not done paying attention to me!" but I'm not sure everyone saw it that way.

Some of our best times were spent at a school field in the middle of the night to work on obedience, play fetch, and lay in the grass together.

I had many nicknames for him over the years. I often called him "Dude" — and occasionally, other words not fit for print. As he got older and slowed down, he became "Old Man." It took some time for him to acclimate to retired life, but he quickly learned who the real boss of the house was — my wife. Eventually, the Old Man settled into being a house dog. He found his favorite spots in the house, enjoyed going for walks, and especially loved following my wife into the kitchen because he knew he would get a treat every time.

He had the bushiest eyebrows, loved beef jerky, chose terrible locations for bathroom breaks, enjoyed biting bad guys' legs, and was incredibly obedient. I'll especially miss the sound of his soft snoring in the back of the car while I was writing reports.

Atlas, may you enjoy endless beef jerky and undisturbed naps, and I genuinely hope that everyone you greet in heaven is wearing a cup.

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Loki, 2009 – 2015 Loki, 2009 – 2015

Innately selfless and tireless, these K-9 Heroes will always be in our hearts.

Your contribution to K-9 Friends – no matter how small – makes a big difference for our heroes, their safety and the security of our community.