Nearly three months removed from a K9 tragedy, the Santa Barbara Police Department has four new legs on the job, and she goes by the name of Kyra.
A purebred German Shepherd, Kyra started to patrol on Sunday with her handler, Officer J. Lombardo.
The 65-pound nearly 2-year-old comes to Santa Barbara from New Jersey, where her mother was also a law enforcement dog.
Kyra is the first female in the SBPD’s history, as female dogs are a rarity in law enforcement, normally saved for breeding instead of serving.
Due to Kyra’s strong prey drive, it makes her good at tracking and finding narcotics.
With the SBPD, she’ll play a dual role initially, both apprehending subjects, as well as finding hidden narcotics. She has been certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Kyra goes home with Officer Lombardo each night, sleeping in an outside kennel and fed Eukanuba dry dog food, which is specifically made for German Shepherds.
“It’s important to support a cohesive bond and partnership between the K9 and the handler,” an SBPD news release said.
Kyra is one of two working K9s at the SBPD, with Murdoch, a Belgian Malinois, teamed up with Officer Signorelli. The two K9s cover each side of the week.
Both dogs go through weekly training with a private trainer that specializes in law enforcement K9s.
The cost of a K9 is not a one-time expense, as the ongoing training can help the K9 become a triple or quadruple threat, with that training taking time and money.
The SBPD K9 program is financially supported through private donations, with aids in the initial purchase, weekly training, food and medical care.
The latter came in to play in late February when Klaus, Officer Lombardo’s previous K9, suddenly died on Feb. 7 after only months on the job. According to the SBPD, Klaus was rushed to one of the best veterinary hospitals in the region, only to fail to recover from a medical condition.
According to sources, Klaus’ death was due to issues that are specific to purebreds, with nothing that human intervention could have prevented.
Officer Lombardo is a 12-year veteran of the SBPD and is a former SWAT team leader, CSI Officer, and Field Training Officer, all attributes that officials look for when pairing a K9 with a handler.