Bellingham Police Service Dog, Danek, retires after 8 years of service

​​K-9 Officer Chris Kaiser and Danek

Photo by Andy Bronson

K-9 Danek and his handler, Officer Kaiser, have lived, trained and come to work together since 2011.  After an eight-year career serving the citizens of Bellingham, K-9 Danek, got to retire this January to spend the rest of his life just hanging out with the Kaisers in his new role as a family dog.  Officer Kaiser and Danek had long and very successful career as a K-9 team and we are honored to share some stories of their time together.

Being a K-9 Officer is a full-time job, 24-7 for 365 days a year as our K-9's live with their respective handlers.  The care-taking and training of these animals never ends, and yet every one of the past K-9 handlers would do it all over again, given the chance.  It is a very special discipline only done by a select few with very specific attributes.   And then there are the K-9's, who are magnificent animals trained to the best of their abilities, willing to give their lives for their human partners.

Officer Kaiser and Danek completed 400 hours of initial training to certify them as a Patrol Dog Generalist Team, followed by another 200+ hours of training to certify them as a Narcotics Canine Team, all through the Washington State Police Canine Association.  To retain the Generalist certification, they trained approximately 20 hrs per month in areas such as obedience, tracking, protection and control, area search, building search, article search and vehicle search.  To retain the Narcotics certification, they trained approximately 12 hours per month in the area of narcotics detection.  Danek was trained to alert to the presence of odors for heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy. 

Over the course of their career, Danek and Officer Kaiser amassed quite a few statistics in many categories.  They tracked and caught over 200 criminals – three of them being homicide suspects.  Danek alerted to the odor of narcotics in many cases and for many agencies, sometimes paraphernalia was found, but in at least BPD 86 cases there were narcotics located and seized.  Danek located over 1000 grams of cocaine, over 700 grams of methamphetamine, over 120 grams of heroin and 18 grams of MDMA (ecstasy.)   In one case, Danek alerted to the odor of cocaine, finding a kilo of cocaine which had a street value of over $250,000 in 2013.   Danek found 7 guns, some stolen and used in violent crimes, during his career.

Officer Kaiser and Danek helped locate 5 people in their career who had walked away from assisted living homes or were in medical distress.  Locating these five people when they did likely saved their lives. 

When asked about his time as Danek's handler, Officer Kaiser said, “I often tell people that I felt like a big kid who runs through the woods following his dog as he tracks down the ones who thought they got away.  Danek has been the best partner I could ever ask for and I will forever look at my time in canine as one of the best seasons of my life."

In thinking over their career, Officer Kaiser has several memorable times with Danek tracking criminals who thought they got away.  He recalls Danek tracking a suspect several times after that suspect committed his robberies.  During one track Danek located some evidence which was used to get the suspect's DNA, his subsequent identification, arrest and eventual conviction.

Officer Kaiser and Danek were involved in the capture of a very prolific and dangerous burglary suspect in Skagit County.  They tracked through swampy marsh, swam across creeks and were part of a track involving 5 dog teams to catch the burglar.

They were involved in tracking down three homicide suspects during their time together, most recently tracking the murder suspect in the fatal stabbing on the Whatcom Creek Trail from 2018.   Over the course of eight years, there was a suspect who committed sufficient crimes that he was tracked and caught by Danek five times.

Officer Kaiser says it best, “We can't thank you all enough for the many years of allowing us to be one of your K9 Teams. I venture to say that Danek's life purpose was to serve the Bellingham Police Department and the citizen in our community, a purpose he did with his whole heart."  Well said.

We are so very proud of Officer Kaiser and his K-9 partner, Danek.  We wish Danek well in retirement, may it be all treats, hugs and naps – he deserves it all.​

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