SOLEDAD — Hot sausages were flying off the grill Saturday in Soledad at Bill Ramus Park for the sausage takeout barbecue to benefit the Soledad Police Department’s K-9 dogs, Huro and Leco. Local residents attended the event for a great lunch and to meet the pair of working dogs that are helping to keep Soledad a safer community.
Huro and Leco are of the Malinois breed from Holland and imported for police work because they are a good breed for detecting illegal drugs and for apprehending fleeing and hiding suspects. The Malinois breed can be fawn or mahogany in color and have black ears and a distinct mask.
“The safety of our community is a top priority,” said Soledad City Councilmember and fundraising coordinator Carla Stewart. “One of the ways we ensure the well-being of Soledad is through the utilization of our police K-9 unit. Our K-9’s work with their handlers in community policing efforts and people can relate to having a dog as a partner, friend and family member. Our K-9’s help to build that bridge between community and our law enforcement team.”
Huro arrived in Soledad in February and lives with his handler Soledad Police Cpl. Walter Tinay. According to Tinay, he and Huro receive weekly training in various police agencies, including the Marina and Hollister police departments. Leco, who is semi-retired but still working, lives with Sgt. Lionel Munguia and his family.
“Our dogs have to be approachable, be able to do patrol work and be able to detect odors from five drugs,” said Tinay. “Huro must be ready to bite and to help apprehend suspects. Huro and Leeco are trained to be dual purpose dogs. When suspects run they track them and find them.”
The annual cost for the K-9 Unit is about $10,000, and the Soledad Police Department currently has the only K-9 unit in South Monterey County and is funded solely by donations from citizens and business owners.
The Soledad K-9’s are fully trained within the standards of the State of California. The Heroes of Monterey County helped the unit for 2017 with a generous donation of $3,200 in February. Additionally, one of the board members personally sponsored a custom Kevlar bulletproof vest for Huro, which was about $900.
“We would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting our K-9s and their handlers,” said Stewart. “We are so grateful for our generous community of citizens and businesses. With their help, we were able to cover just about all the costs of putting on the fundraiser, and we raised about $3,200.”
Donors for the event included Pacific Ag. Rentals, Soledad Auto Parts, FoodsCo, Costco, Carla Stewart, Tim and Mary Strobridge, Pauline Tomasini, Tom and Barbara Stewart, Marilyn Sullivan, Kimberly Binsacca, Maria Villagomez, Nely Martinez, Patsy Gasca, and the local chapter of the American Red Cross. There were also many other cash donations from local citizens.