SEASIDE, Calif. (KION) If you were at the Seaside Night-Out event, you might have spotted this furry friend.
Zhero joined the Seaside Police Department team over a year ago in their K-9 program. He is a German Shephard with a dual purpose: patrol work and narcotics. His job is to help find missing items, people, and even hidden drugs.
"I've wanted a dog since I was young," Zhero's handler, Officer David Dillon said. "And then coming into this career path, I've worked alongside of other canine teams and I've always took an interest to them."
Officer Dillon was formerly a detective for Seaside Police Department. He applied to be a handler and when they gave him the position, he was allowed to choose between two dogs. Obviously, the 3-year-old pup, won his heart. Afterward, every day for a month, they went through an intense training process. Zhero learned to hunt for narcatoics, respond to Dillon's commands, and get to know his new human.
"Each dog is different. They have their own personalities and everything," Dillon said. "So just learning his personality the way he learns and rewarding him when he does something good."
There was one time where they were on a call and a suspect had ran into a concealed area where the officer on the scene couldn't find him. Zhero was able to pick up his scent and lead Dillon to where he was hiding. Not only that, but Dillon said it also helped de-escalated the situation where officers were able to arrest him.
"A lot of people sometimes aren't as comfortable talking to police. But they love animals, they love dogs," said Dillon. "So we have them as a liaison, if you will, between us and the community to show that, you know, we're more approachable and they're welcome to pet him."
Many times, people aren't allowed to touch K-9 dogs, but Dillon said it really depends on the personality of the dog and the handler. For him, Dillon said he feels comfortable bringing Zhero out and allowing others to pet him.
"He is very playful, he loves people and he has a very good temper, so he's eager to learn," Dillon said. "He has a lot of energy. He's very he's still young. So, yeah, I mean, I didn't expect his personality, but I'm grateful that I have him."
Dillon not only works with Zhero, but he also gets to take him home. During their time-off they go on daily walks, go out to Seaside High School baseball field and toss the ball around and even go out hiking together.
The career span of a police dog is usually pretty short, depending on the breed. For German Shephards like Zhero, their hips start to wear down leading them to retire usually around 8 years-old. But lucky for him, he’ll get to stay with his owner forever. Because even after he retires, Dillon will always be his best friend.