Popeye stands out among police dogs.
For starters, he’s a different breed – a black Lab from Texas.
His Anaheim Police Department colleagues – Cisko, Bruno, Indy, Tago, Gunther and Recon – are German Shepherds from Europe.
And when Popeye completed his training last week, he became Anaheim’s only full-time Dope Dog.
Even the way the department acquired Popeye was unique – the result of a persistent narcotics investigator and generous Anaheim businessmen.
“It started with a great idea from Investigator Cat Panov,” said Sgt. Craig Friesen, who heads the street narcotics unit. “And became reality because of the outstanding support we receive from the community.”
While it can take investigators hours to find contraband hidden by savvy criminals, a well-trained Labrador Retriever can sniff the drugs in less than 15 minutes.
Adding a Lab would make the team more efficient, Panov argued.
Friesen agreed, but told Panov the challenging economic times forced the department to make difficult decisions about new expenditures. There would be no city money for new dogs. At least for now.
“What if I raised the money myself?” Panov asked.
It didn’t take long before the cost of the dog – and some of his vet bills – were covered through donations from the Anaheim business community.
Picking up the cost of the dog were Bill Taormina, CEO of Clean City, Inc., and Jerry Zomordian, owner of All-American Petroleum.
Anthony Pena, owner of Tax and Financial on Lewis Street; Gregory Boiko, owner of Express Pipe and Supply and Steve Marovich, owner of the Juke Joint, contributed smaller amounts that will be spent on healthcare.
“We want other business leaders to follow our lead,” said Taormina. Added Zomorodian: “Our police department needs every citizen to give of their time and, if possible, their financial resources.”
A three-year-old with tons of energy, Popeye earned a badge for his collar for completing a four-week training course. His primary role will be assisting the street narcotics team in arresting Anaheim-based drug dealers.
Once in a while, he’ll work bigger regional or even international cases with the major narcotics unit. Popeye will also be available to assist other police departments.
He’s already off to a good start.
On his first day on the job, he assisted APD’s major narcotics team in locating 12 kilos of cocaine with a street value of $264,000. He also helped the street team locate an ounce of methamphetamine.
Panov said Popeye’s boundless energy and “play drive” have been outstanding additions at home, too.
“My daughters (5, 4 and 2) love him,” he said.