K9 Program



VPD K9 Unit Overview

We currently have four K9 teams at the Ventura Police Department. All are assigned to the Patrol Unit so that a team is on-duty seven days a week, providing around the clock service to the community.

We have used K9 teams for over twenty years and the VPD was one of the first law enforcement agencies in Ventura County to use canines. All of our canines are German Shepherds and they live at home with their handler/officer and their families. The dogs fit right in at home and with other family pets however, when it is time to go to work their training and discipline take over

Patrol and Training

Like most agencies, we use K9 teams for a variety of public safety assignments. The two most frequent uses are to locate fleeing trainingsuspects and to find illegal drugs. Canines can search an entire warehouse, for example, in much less time than a team of officers could perform the same job. Canines can sniff out hidden suspects thereby making them more effective in this situation than their human counterparts. Using K9 teams allows us to perform a variety of dangerous tasks in a quick and safe manner.

Our Department, along with other law enforcement agencies from Santa Barbara and Ventura County, train weekly with Dave Inglis, one of the foremost K9 trainers in the United States. Weekly training sessions typically last for most of the day and may vary between such skills as searching, apprehension, drug detection, obedience, agility, and confined searches.

Community Outreach & Events

The K9 teams are very popular with local school and community groups and often provide demonstrations. This is an important part of our outreach efforts as it allows us to not only demonstrate the abilities of our K9 Unit but to deliver a message on crime prevention at the same time. Furthermore, it is a great opportunity for people to talk to the officer(s) and further build community-police partnerships.

Members of the VPD K9 Team also participate in various K9 trials and competitions and have won numerous awards. Participating in competitions allows our team to keep their skills sharp, measure themselves against other law enforcement agencies, and provides an opportunity to learn new techniques and skills.

VPD and The National Police Dog Foundation

The Ventura Police Department is fortunate to be involved with the National Police Dog Foundation, a not-for-profit organization.

All of our canines (past and present) were purchased by the Police Dog Foundation (started by Dave and Debbie Inglis) and not through taxpayer dollars. On average the cost for a canine is $12,000, with an additional $8,000-$10,000 for training and certification, all of which is paid for through the generosity of the Foundation.

This local not-for-profit group has been a generous supporter of our K9 Team for several years. The Foundation seeks donations from the community and uses the money to purchase and train police dogs for law enforcement agencies throughout Ventura County. The donation of a trained police dog and handler is a tremendous benefit to our Department and to the community, and we cannot thank them enough for their support.

Our K9 Teams

Officer Joseph Metz and Yankee

In April 2014, Officer Joseph Metz was selected as our newest K9 Handler.  He is partnered with "Yankee vom Haus Vortkamp", or "Yankee" for short. 

Like all of our K9s, Yankee was purchased with help and generosity of the National Police Dog Foundation.

After attending and graduating from a rigorous 5 week training program through the Inglis Police Dog Academy, Officer Metz and Yankee began patrolling the streets of Ventura in May.    

When Officer Metz and Yankee became partners, Yankee was about 16 months old. He was born in Germany in November of 2013.  

In addition to having completed basic Patrol School, which covers searching/locating suspects in buildings and large outdoor areas, Yankee is also trained in apprehension and basic obedience.

As with all our K9s and their partners, Yankee lives at home with Officer Metz..




Officer Juan "JC" Rodriguez and Rover

The fourth member of our team is Officer Juan "JC" Rodriguez who is partnered with "Rover".  JC and Rover joined the team in September 2014.

Rover was born on August 4, 2012 in Germany as "Enjo vom Cap Arkona" and was purchased with a donation from Land Rover/Jaguar of Ventura.  The name "Rover" was added on their behalf and you can view the press release regarding the event here: Rover press release.  Rover was trained in Germany in basic obedience, tracking, and apprehension and arrived in the USA in October 2014.  JC and Rover became partners shortly thereafter.  

JC has been a sworn police officer since 1995 and has had the opportunity to work Motors, Detectives, Gang task force, narcotics on a DEA task force, and SWAT. He began working at VPD in Aug 2011 in patrol and got selected for a VPD K9 position in Sept. 2014.  






Officer Hrynyk and Jag 


Remembering K9 “Sonny”

August 26, 2009 marked the twenty-five year anniversary of K9 Sonny (pronounced “Sony”) who was shot and killed in the line of duty on August 26, 1984.  Sonny is the only police canine in the Ventura Police Department’s (VPD) history to die in the line of duty.

Background information regarding the incident:

On Sunday, August 26, 1984, Officer Vern Alstot and his K9 Partner Sonny, along with Officers Ray Vance and Robert Balding, were in pursuit of awanted and armed parolee (Larry Lee Larimore), who had kidnapped his ex-girlfriend.  While being chased Larimore fled his vehicle and Sonny was deployed in an effort to apprehend him. 

As Sonny got close Larimore drew a gun and fired two rounds, fatally wounding Sonny.  Larimore surrendered shortly thereafter and was taken into custody.  Larimore subsequently plead guilty and served six months of a one-year sentence. 

At the time of his death Sonny was a three-year veteran of the VPD. 

Continuing Sonny’s Honor:

Shortly after Sonny’s death a memorial plaque was placed in the front lobby of the VPD headquarters to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice that K9 Sonny gave.  In 2009, the 25 year anniversary of Sonny’s falling, and as an additional way to pay tribute to the untimely passing of Sonny, the VPD’s K9 Team displayed commemorative bumper stickers on their patrol vehicles honoring his sacrifice. 

Additionally, in 2009 members of the VPD’s K9 Team presented a memorial plaque to Sonny’s partner; former VPD Officer Vern Alstot/retired Ventura City Fire Battalion Chief.  Each day officers and their partners, including their K9 counterparts, risk their lives for the safety of the community they serve. Unfortunately, the reality is that sometimes those officers pay the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duties and the commemorative stickers are a simple yet powerful reminder of the sacrifice Sonny gave to our community on that fateful day in August 1984. Said Alstot “I am overwhelmed and deeply touched by the actions of the VPD’s K9 Team in choosing to honor Sonny’s passing in this way,”.  “Even after twenty-five years it is still hard for me to appropriately describe the connection an officer develops with their canine partner, and I will never forget his dedication and loyalty”.

It should also be noted that as a result of this incident in 1985 California State Senator Robert Presley successfully introduced an amendment to Section 600 of the California State Penal Code (PC), which made the killing of any police animal a felony.  Prior to this incident PC 600 only included police horses. 

Faithful Partner Memorial

In June of 2011 Sonny was recently added to the "Faithful Partners" memorial at the University of California Davis.  The memorial is dedicated to California law enforcement canine’s killed in the line of duty.


Officer Eric Jackson and Eron - Retired

In September 2011 Officer Eric Jackson was selected as VPD’s newest K9 Handler. Officer Jackson replaced Officer Jack Ortega who retired/rotated back to Patrol from the K9 Unit in August after ten years as a Handler. 

Officer Jackson's partner "Eron" (born on April 24, 2010) is a 2 year old black and white German Shepherd from Serbia. Eron was flow to the United States in September of 2010 after being selected by the Inglis Police Dog Academy and purchased with the help of the National Police Dog Foundation, to be the Ventura Police Department's newest K9.

Eron, like the other K9's, has been trained in apprehension, obedience, tracking, and narcotics detection. "Eron" lives at home with Eric.





Officer Jacob Fowler and Migo - Retired


Officer Jacob Fowler is partnered with “Amigo von Neuenkirchner Land”, or “Migo” for short.  Officer Fowler and Amigo were partnered together in August of 2010.  They then underwent an intensive five week training program in order to hone their skills and prepare each of them for patrol as a K9 Team.

Amigo is a 75 pound black and tan German Shepherd who was born in Elmshorn, Germany in October of 2007.  He is trained in tracking and the locating of individuals, whether missing or a suspect.  Amigo lives at home with Officer Fowler



Should you have any additional questions regarding our K9 Team or the Police Dog Foundation please contact the individuals shown below.