VOTE! NAME-THE-POLICE-DOG CONTEST NARROWED DOWN TO FIVE FINALISTS

VOTE! NAME-THE-POLICE-DOG CONTEST NARROWED DOWN TO FIVE FINALISTS

More than 400 people responded to a name-the-police-dog contest announced Feb. 7 by the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department. From the entries, five finalists have been selected for the 19-month-old Belgian Malinois that was imported from the Netherlands and purchased for $4,000 with a federal grant.

K-9 coordinator Sgt. Gerard Madden said he was pleasantly surprised by the volume of name suggestions.

“We had ideas rolling in from all over Doña Ana County, as well as from Washington state, California and the East Coast,” Madden said. “Several people said they read the story on the Internet and wanted to participate in the contest.”

K-9 handlers sorted through all the entries and narrowed the list to five potential names, each of which reflects to some extent the dog’s background and training.

The suggested names are: 1) Tyson, after the famous boxer Mike Tyson; 2) Zorro, because of the dog’s facial markings that resemble a mask; 3) Scrappy, referring to the dog’s early life; 4) Hoover, because of the loud sniffing noise he makes when searching for drugs; and 5) Snitch, because he’ll give away the secrets of would-be drug traffickers.

Madden said votes will be accepted until noon Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007, at which time a winner will be announced. To submit a vote by email, send it to input@donaanacounty.org or to k9daso@yahoo.com. To phone in a vote, call (505) 525-1911.

The new dog came to the department with an unusual name: Berry 9.

Madden said Berry 9 had surgery recently to heal an abscess on his left rear paw. During training with other dogs in California, a black Labrador Retriever bit off a piece of the dog’s right ear. Berry 9 loves to play with a football, and has been known to intercept a ball from people playing nearby. He loves kids.

On the job, Madden said, the dog is all business. He is trained to sniff out narcotics and to assist deputies in special-response situations. He will also tour the schools in Doña Ana County to make presentations about the department’s K-9 unit.

Berry 9 replaces 12-year veteran Zico, who is beginning to show signs of back troubles and will be retired from the force.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 525-5801.