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Bullard’s new K-9 partner

By DARLA McFARLAND
The Examiner – Eastern Jackson County, Mo

Daro
Pedigree – dual purpose
Candidate for police. retrieves metal, pvc, ball
Nice full bite
Sold to the to Independence Police Department, Missouri
Sgt. John Bullard pets his new dog Daro, a male German Shephard, purchased with private funds to replace his dog Hondo.
The flag in front of the Independence police K-9 training center still flies at half-staff in honor of Hondo, the police dog lost to heat exposure last Wednesday, even as his replacement is welcomed into the unit.Sgt. John Bullard, Hondo’s handler/trainer, greeted the new arrival Sunday with an equal measure of enthusiasm and grief for his lost partner.

“I did a lot of hard soul-searching last week as to whether I wanted to do this again,” Bullard said. “But, then I thought this program is too important to the community and to me to just walk away. So, here I am.

Bullard suffered the loss of his longtime partner, Kemo, to a rare form of cancer in 2002. Hondo was brought in to replace Kemo in November and was commissioned to service in January. He was one of the first two dogs fully trained at the K-9 units new training facility in east Independence.

Hondo died last Wednesday after suffering heat exposure inside the rear-seat canine quarters of Bullard’s patrol car. The car’s air conditioning and the Hot Dog monitoring system designed to signal a rise in temperature both failed. Hondo was in the car for about an hour before Bullard discovered the problem.

A short time before, Bullard and Hondo had visited a DARE summer camp program where they did a demonstration and met the children.

“His last official act was to let about 50 kids come and meet him and pet him. To me, that is what this unit is really all about,” said a tearful Bullard.

He said the support of his fellow officers and the community is helping him through the loss. The K-9 unit has received many dozens of phone calls, e-mails and cards expressing sympathy and support. Donations are also coming in to cover the costs of purchasing the new dog.

“This program is too important to the community and to me to just walk away. So here I am.”
SGT. John Bullard
Independence K-9 handler, whose partner Hondo died last week
Contributions can be made to Coins for Canines, c/o Bank 10, 17430 East 39th Street, Independence, Mo., 64055. The vast majority of the K-9 unit’s facility and equipment has been paid for through private donations.

Police officials said they were unable to pinpoint the exact nature of the system failure that led to Hondo’s death. The manufacturer of the Hot Dog system, a Miami, Fla. company, is sending five new control units to re-outfit the K-9 cars. The Police Department will also test another system from a different manufacturer.

The new dog, officially named Daro Zo Ziaru, arrived from a training center in Ohio Sunday. He is a pure-breed German shepherd, 19 months old, bred in the Slovak Republic. He will undergo 14 to 16 weeks of training in obedience, search and apprehension and narcotics detection.

The dog is dark in coloring with almost solid black boots and tall ears. His face is also mostly black but with a noticeable tan mask around the eyes, suggesting a possible new name.

“I’ve been thinking about Zoro because of the mask but I don’t know yet,” Bullard said. “We have to get to know each other and see what kind of personality he has.”

Bullard said Daro scored very high on the basic tests for a police dog including the hunt instinct, confidence and physical agility. He also demonstrated an approachability that bodes well for his role as a public ambassador.

“Almost immediately he let me come up and run my hands over his face and look at his teeth without appearing threatened,” Bullard said. “That’s a good sign that he’ll be comfortable with people.”

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