Locals open up their homes to raise puppies for law enforcement

Locals open up their homes to raise puppies for law enforcement

(Courtesy of Ricki Draper)

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EDEN, Weber County — Ricki Draper was driving to work one day when she thought there had to be more to life than sitting at a desk.

She loves dogs and her husband works for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, so the two decided to marry their passions, and as a result Havoc K9 was born in 2011. The non-profit organization raises puppies and trains them to work with law enforcement and first responders before giving the dogs to local agencies free of charge.

Currently, dogs raised by program volunteers are working with organizations like the Pleasant Grove Police Department, Centerville Police Department and Utah Task Force 1. Seven agencies in Northern and Southern Utah are slated to receive puppies from the latest batch, which will be meeting their trainers on March 7.

“I love seeing the teamwork between puppy raisers and the puppy — that teamwork, that fire, the excitement they have working as a team,” Draper said. “Training this tiny little fluff ball into this amazing, confident dog that can go out and apprehend suspects and sniff out drugs — it’s very cool.”

Volunteers keep the puppies in their home for about a year and are responsible for socializing the dogs in public places and keeping them healthy. Twice a week volunteers take the dogs to training sessions, where the dogs learn scent detection, obedience and beginning apprehension. The organization pays for veterinary bills and training equipment.

Courtesy of Ricki Draper
Courtesy of Ricki Draper

In the past some puppies have been purchased by Havoc K9 and others have been donated, but starting in 2014 the organization has been breeding its own German shepherds. This year, there are six German shepherd puppies from the breeding in addition to two donated bloodhound puppies.

It costs about $3,000 per puppy per year for basic maintenance, according to Draper. So far she has been paying for the program mostly out of pocket, but the organization also accepts donations as a 501(c)(3) non-profit group. Despite the costs, she loves the work and seeing the puppies meet their law enforcement handlers.

“To see that (dogs are) going to be their partner that could potentially save their life and bring them back to their family is just the coolest thing in the whole world to me,” she said. “They have that backup where they wouldn’t before. It would just be them alone, making a stop. But they actually have someone that has their back that can get them home at the end of the day.

“I think that is probably the coolest thing for me, especially when my husband is an officer, so I feel that same way about him,” she added. “He or another officer may be working K9 this year with one of these new babies if everything is approved, and to know that the dog is there working with them is just going to make my stress level go down because I know there is a better chance he'll come home to me.”

Courtesy of Ricki Draper
Courtesy of Ricki Draper

Havoc K9 is hosting its puppy placement ceremony on March 7 at Jeremiah’s Restaurant, located at 1307 W. 1200 South in Ogden, at 5 p.m. Tickets to the dinner can be purchased online for $25 and proceeds will go towards the dogs’ training and care.

The organization is looking for one additional puppy raiser to take in a bloodhound puppy from this batch. Those interested in becoming puppy raisers can find more information their site.

Draper warned that while the puppies are adorable, they are very high-drive, so they likely need someone who has experience with dogs.

“They’re not little lap dogs,” she said. “They’re going to have a little more fire."

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