Every time I learn of another school shooting I can’t help but think what if a K9 had been present?
Teachers packing heat aren’t the answer. They underpaid superheroes to begin with; they don’t need this added responsibility. Even if they’re certified to carry, do they have to time to go the range and maintain their skills? I’m fortunate enough to have my own gun range and know what it takes to remain proficient with firearms. It takes work! I could not imagine trying to maintain that precision while trying to herd 25 screaming first graders!
What happens when children are hit with “friendly fire” from a person with the very best of intentions? You can control a weapon but what about those children around it? Who is going to stop a panicking child from running where they shouldn’t? That’s the teachers job. Keeping them out of harm’s way not inadvertently putting them there!
What if the weapon falls into the hands of a child? Or one of those students on edge that are often at the heart of theses tragic shootings?
I believe K9s are the deterrents we should be seeking. A K9 isn’t going to stop an active shooter situation, but he can sure buy an extra 45 seconds for those seeking safety or signal when someone’s entering campus with gunshot residue on their hands or firearms, or heaven forbid, explosives, in their backpacks! It’s already well documented as to how successful K9s are at keeping drugs off of campuses, why should firearms be any different?
People DO NOT realize how highly trained these dogs truly are! They might not be able to “detect crazy” but trust me their instincts on crazy are way better than ours! How many times have we seen stories where household pets have alerted their owners to dangerous situations? How about the dog that warned the family off of the abusive babysitter? The dogs, on their own, have that instinct. K9s are selected for that superior trait and it’s honed to perfection through training.
Take our own “Shadow Sentinels,” our personal protection K9s. I can’t fathom the safety of my child without her “ninja nanny.” My daughter Sinclair is 44 pounds, dripping wet. If someone was to grab her and starting running, there’s not much she can do. With K9 Daisy at her side, the odds of a stranger danger dramatically decrease.
All it takes is one code word (usually in Czech, Dutch or German) to put Daisy in stealth mode. She locks on an assailant to give Sinclair a chance to get free. When the code word for stop is engaged, she immediately stops and goes back to family pet mode. Again, the switch is immediate, from jaws clamped around an attacker one second to being attacked by pets and praise by a group of children in another.
K9s4KIDs may not be the best answer, but until someone comes up with a better one that doesn’t involve $1,000 Kevlar backpacks or blankets, I’m not budging.
October 13 – 17, 2014
2nd Annual Texas K9 Officers Conference and Trials – Harris County Sheriff’s Office Academy.
Click HERE to Register Online.
Kristi Schiller was watching the 10 p.m. news when the grief-stricken figure of Harris County deputy constable Ted Dahlin filled her TV screen.
It was clear what had happened: Man and dog had been in pursuit of burglary suspects when the dog sped ahead. The highly trained canine cornered at least one of four young men, but a fifth came up from behind and choked the dog to death.
That December 2009, Schiller started learning as much as she could about police dogs and their officers. She hoped Dahlin’s dog, Blek, would be replaced swiftly, but she discovered that was highly unlikely. Dahlin would have to do desk duty until he himself could scrape up the $10,000 to $15,000 it would take to replace his partner. And fundraising efforts tended to be low-wattage affairs – bake sales, barbecues and car washes.
Schiller, a lifelong volunteer, decided to wade in. In 2010, she started K9s4Cops, a nonprofit group that helps law enforcement agencies here and across the country buy top-quality police dogs. Today, K9s4Cops has put more than 60 canines on the streets, and an offshoot, K9s4Kids, is helping to beef up security at nine school campuses across the state.
Early on, Schiller and her husband, Energy XXI chairman and CEO John Schiller, underwrote the program. Over time, however, generous Houstonians and law enforcement officers from across the country have opened their wallets, too.
Supporters want to strengthen the ties between communities and the men and women who work to keep them safe.
Also, it’s hard to resist Schiller and her king shepherd, Johnny Cash.
The dog, who doubles as a mascot and security guard, is 140 pounds and an expressive, gentle giant. At 43, Schiller still looks like the media personality and model she used to be. She’s been compared to both Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. She looks like Monroe, acts like Ball and makes visitors feel as if they are a part of her high-society world.
She’s all business, however, when she’s talking about the important roles dogs play in police work.
“Blek died,” Schiller says, “but Ted Dahlin went home to his wife and children.”
Ready for fame
Schiller grew up in Brazosport, where, she says, the road meets the Gulf of Mexico. Her family was in the offshore-boat business, and she ate raw oysters for snacks.
After earning a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Houston, Schiller took a job in an early version of entertainment TV.
The show, “Day and Date,” was canceled after 13 weeks, but Schiller couldn’t imagine failure when she arrived in the Big Apple to start work. Her maiden name was Hoss, and she introduced herself to everyone she met: “I’m Kristi Hoss, and I’m going to be famous in about a week.”
After a few months, she was back in Houston, working at radio station KL0L, 101 FM, where she dished out entertainment news and relationship advice starting at 5 a.m.
On the air she was known as Lucy Lipps, and partly because of her easy on-air persona and partly because of her interest in technology and social media, her reputation grew.
Forbes magazine named her “Queen of the Internet” in 1997.
“I loved it,” Schiller says. “And then I realized things were getting out of control. People knew me, and I didn’t know them.”
Schiller briefly worked as a stockbroker.
“But that didn’t last,” she says. “So I moved to New Orleans.”
In the matchmaking department, Schiller was surprisingly effective – she fixed up nine couples who actually got married. But she herself was single, rich in friends but poor in boyfriends. Then, when she was 30, a friend tried to fix her up. “Oh, honey,” she told him, “this isn’t going to work. I’m the matchmaker.”
Finally, however, Schiller agreed to meet the wildcatter who would be her future husband. It was July 2001, a hurricane was brewing in the Gulf, and the French Quarter was flooding.
“John was completely wigged out,” Schiller says. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve lived through 150 of these things.’ ”
The date didn’t last long, but both were smitten. They met again the next week, and they’ve been together ever since.
Sinclair, their daughter, was born in 2006. She was 6 in 2012.the year of the Sandy Hook, Conn., school shooting That’s when Schiller decided to start K9s4Kids, which she is hoping to expand along with K9s4Cops.
She is not opposed to guns – she’s a member of the National Rifle Association and has a license to carry. But, she says, one protection dog is a better investment than a school full of armed teachers.
“They are underpaid heroes,” Schiller says, “but they’re not in the business of reading, writing and Remingtons. When they were hired, nobody asked them, ‘How’s your aim?’ ”
Expanding her charity
Today hundreds of volunteers are involved in Schiller’s organization.
One is Bill Stanton, who describes himself as a private eye and former cop from the Bronx.
“Kristi reminds me of a modern-day Lucille Ball – she creates a tornado wherever she goes. But it’s a tornado for good, and her energy and enthusiasm are infectious. She has this down-home-iness that people just love.”
Sgt. Mike Thomas, in charge of the canine unit for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, appreciates Schiller’s can-do attitude.
“She may have a ditzy, blond persona in public, but she’s intelligent, and she’s learned the dog business,” Thomas says. “People respect that.”
Early on, the sergeant says, Schiller gave his department five dogs. They were trainable but the equivalent of C students, he says. Later, Thomas took Schiller to Indiana and showed her where he prefers to buy police dogs. In the middle of the kennel tour, she grabbed him.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,” Schiller told him. “I just realized I went to the Dollar Store to buy dogs, and this is Saks Fifth Avenue. These are the dogs that you need.”
To Thomas and the dozens of other lawmen and -women whom Schiller has helped, she’s a hero.
“Of course I’m not,” Schiller says. “The heroes are in uniform.”
Today is a special day for heroes, both two- and four-legged alike. American Humane Association, the oldest national humane organization, is pleased to announce that the semifinalist round of public voting is now open for the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. The organization also announced that online nominations are now being accepted for the inaugural American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, presented by Zoetis Inc., which also serves as the online sponsor for the Hero Dog Awards.
Eight finalist dogs and two veterinary professionals will be flown to Hollywood to take part in the fourth annual Hero Dog Awards gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, September 27, to be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel in late October. There they will walk the red carpet, conduct VIP interviews, and attend the awards show and black-tie gala where the winning 2014 American Hero Dog, Hero Veterinarian, and Hero Veterinary Technician will be announced.
The American public is now invited to visit www.herodogawards.org to vote for their favorite dog in each of eight categories: Law Enforcement Dogs, Military Dogs, Arson Dogs (sponsored by State Farm), Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs (sponsored by Modern Dog), Therapy Dogs (sponsored by Zoetis), and Emerging Hero Dogs for ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things (sponsored by Trupanion Pet Insurance). One vote per category per day can be submitted until June 6 when this round of voting ends. This year, 24 spectacular semifinalists (the top three in each category) will be chosen in the first round of public voting. The second round, featuring a combination of public and celebrity voting, will narrow the field to the eight category finalists, who will then compete for the grand prize of 2014 American Hero Dog.
Each of the eight finalists will win $1,500 for their chosen charity selected from the contest’s list of 15 charity partners. The top winner will win an additional $5,000 for their charity partner.
And Behind Every Healthy Pet (and Other Animals) is a Hero Vet or Hero Vet Tech! Pet owners and animal lovers alike are also invited to visitwww.herovetawards.org to nominate their favorite veterinary professionals dedicated to the betterment of the health and welfare of animals and the promotion of the human-animal bond. These awards are not limited to companion animal veterinarians. Professionals from all fields of veterinary medicine are eligible for entry including, but not limited to those who work in: research, specialist fields, emergency services, shelters, and those who work with large and exotic animals. The five finalists in the American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician categories will be selected by a special blue-ribbon panel of judges consisting of celebrities, veterinary professionals, and animal care professionals. Beginning June 13, the American public will be invited to vote online for their favorite veterinarian and vet tech.
“Hero dogs do so much to keep us safe, happy, and healthy. It is the least we can do to honor them on their special night every fall. We can’t wait to meet the 2014 class of Hero Dogs,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO. “And to us, all vets and vet techs are heroes, and this is why we want to honor the best of the best in their field.”
This star-studded event draws animal lovers and celebrities from all over the world. Celebrity presenters and the celebrity judges who work with the public on the final two rounds of voting of the Hero Dog Awards to determine the semi-finalists and winner have included Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Joey Lawrence, Miranda Lambert, Kristin Chenoweth, and many, many more. Even celebrity dogs are getting involved: “I believe all dogs are heroes!” says American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards National Spokesdog Super Smiley, who with handler, actress, and “The Pet Lifestyle Coach®” Megan Blake have their own show on Pet Life Radio and advocate to get shelter pets adopted.
“There is nothing better than a dog to provide warmth, comfort and often life-saving care for people,” added Lois Pope. “It has been my honor to serve as the presenting sponsor of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards for the past three years because of the important place dogs have in all our hearts. Each and every one of these brave canines and their owners are heroes in my book.”
“We are excited to partner with American Humane Association for the American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, Group Director of CAD Veterinary Operations at Zoetis. “We are deeply appreciative of everything the veterinary community does to benefit pets, farm animals, working animals, and more; these awards are our way of giving back. We cannot wait to meet the winners who will be shining examples of the heroic work done every day by our Hero Vets and Hero Vet Techs.”
During the month of May 2013 I was advised that I would be receiving a K9 partner thanks to the support of the K9s4Cops organization. After looking at several K9’s I was introduced to “Lucky” and immediately a bond was formed. K9 Lucky is an all black German Shepherd from the Czech Republic. He is certified in Explosives detection and patrol work. We have become inseparable partners in the last 10 months and his drive and dedication is second to none. In our time on short time on patrol, 6 months, K9 Lucky has located 3 dangerous felony suspects. K9 Lucky has also helped sweep and clear several large events in the Houston area of explosives. Had K9s4Cops not supported our department I would not have had the opportunity to make this amazing transition into the K9 division.
|Entry Category||Law Enforcement Dogs|
You can vote for K9 Lucky at http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=28381451
Boomer is a five year old German shepherd and has been serving the citizens of Harris County since April 2011. Boomer has been utilized numerous times resulting in the arrest of numerous suspects and the seizure of large amounts of narcotics and U.S. currency. Due to Boomer’s large amount of narcotics seizures he has not only increased the quality of life for the citizens of Harris County and the Houston Area, but made the streets safer all across the United States. Below are a couple of Boomers deployments.
On January 05, 2012 Narcotic units requested a canine to a traffic stop which involved a vehicle pulling a 40 foot hay trailer. The information relayed was that the trailer had a hidden compartment but narcotic officers could not locate it. Boomer was deployed and alerted to the bottom of the trailer by a metal plate. The plate was removed and the compartment was found revealing 1729 pounds of marijuana, 10.4 kilos of cocaine, and .50 kilo of Methamphetamine. This is the case shown in the picture above.
On November 5, 2011 a patrol unit located a vehicle that was taken in a Car-Jacking at gun point. There was a short vehicle chase and the driver of the vehicle fled on foot. Boomer gave chase through an open field and was able to take the suspect to the ground. Boomer’s heroic actions resulted in the arrest of the dangerous suspect safely, and prevented any other citizens from being harmed.
|Entry Category:||Law Enforcement Dogs|
You can vote for K9 Officer Boomer at http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=92113991
You can vote for K9 Tommy at http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=49923458
Mack is a five year old German shepherd and has been serving the citizens Harris County since January 2012. In Mack’s short career he has been deployed many times resulting in the arrest of numerous suspects and the seizure of large amounts of narcotics, U.S. currency, and locating evidence. With Mack’s seizures and arrest he has made a great impact on the quality of life in Harris County and beyond.
Mack has been awarded the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Bravery award. This is just one example of Mack’s valiant efforts to make Harris County a safer place to live:
On 03-27-2013, Deputy Shaddox and his partner “Mack” were called to assist the Texas Rangers in locating and capturing escapee Britt Privatte, who had been in custody for Aggravated Robbery. The suspect had told his family that he would not return to jail and that he would shoot any law enforcement officer who attempted to arrest him.
The suspect was spotted by the surveillance team at which time he fled on foot into a heavily wooded area. K-9 Mack was deployed into the woods and was able to track and locate the suspect. The suspect refused to comply with the officers orders to surrender at which time K-9 Mack engaged the suspect and held him while he was taken into custody. During the search incident to arrest a fully loaded semi auto pistol was found in the suspect’s pants pocket.
|Entry Category:||Law Enforcement Dogs|
You can vote for K9 Mack at http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=82888931