Altus Police Department added a new K-9 Unit to their agency after receiving “Destiny,” a 2-year-old German Shepard provided to the City at no cost through Universal K9 located in San Antonio, Texas. Destiny and her handler, Officer Jerry Downen, have undergone intensive training to allow APD to have a third active K-9 Unit on the road at all times to get drugs off of the Altus streets.
“It’s a great day for us to have another dog in the street,” APD Chief Deputy Mike Bell said. Bell learned about a grant opportunity to receive a drug dog through Universal K9, valued at $8,000 -$10,000, covering the entire cost to rescue and train Destiny. A separate grant from a company in California will offset the cost for sending Officer Downen to San Antonio for two weeks to train with Destiny at Universal K9. Destiny received four weeks of training in San Antonio before Downen arrived. The only expense to the City of Altus was to upgrade one Dodge Charger equipped as K-9 vehicle, Bell explained.
After the Altus Police Department sent out an email looking to promote an officer to work in a K-9 unit, Downen’s interest lead to an initial evaluation period and an interview. Finally, APD Chief of Police Tim Murphy selected the person he felt was best qualified.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I started here. It’s just been a dream of mine,” said Downen. “I really like her. She works really well, and we finally get to be a good team.” Downen said he is eager to “get drugs off of the street and make big drug busts.”
Downen will likely be paired with Destiny throughout his entire career, Bell explained, as the canine typically has only one handler. “The longer they work together the better they work together,” Bell said. The new unit will continue to train with two other APD K-9 handlers until early December before being certified by the State of Oklahoma.
Destiny’s fate was changed when Universal K9 rescued her from being euthanized in an animal shelter in the San Antonio area. “She was about to be put down, and was saved from a shelter by Universal K9,” Downen said. The company goes to shelters and looks for dogs with the right aptitude for performing drug dog work. “The company works with them for several weeks before deciding if they are right,” Downen explained. “If not, they try to find a better home for them.”
Destiny was selected by the dog training company for her ambitious character. “The drive is what they are looking for,” Bell explained. “The dog has got to have drive. When there are drugs in the room she would start looking right away.”
“We’re fed up with the drugs,” Bell said. “We’re gonna do our job to keep our children safe as far as schools and everything like that. That’s the reason I went out and actually found the dog and brought it in, and selected this young man to take it over. I think he’s going to do a really good job. The two of them are going to be really great in the future. Officer Downen got out there and started chasing drugs the first day he started working, and he’s gotten really good at it. I think that’s goning to help us with this dog because now I’ve given him another tool to go out there and help him do something he’s good at.”
“Our dogs are very active,” Bell added. Destiny will not only serve the Altus Police Department, by like the other K-9 units, will assist Jackson County Sheriff Department and Oklahoma Highway Patrol.