Months after Pleasant Grove Police Department’s K-9 retired due to injuries, a new K-9 officer has joined the crew. Django, a 3-year-old German shepherd, has become part of the department, teaming up with his new partner, Cpl. Chris Petersen.

The department’s former K-9, Havoc, retired in February after serving since 2014. The 5-year-old German shepherd severely injured his leg when he got caught trying to get out of his kennel. After multiple surgeries, his leg had to be amputated. The department spent thousands of dollars trying to save Havoc’s leg, according to Capt. Britt Smith.

For about a year, the department has been without a drug dog, Smith said. “It impacts the level of drug interdiction we can do on the streets.”

There have been times, Smith said, when the officers needed a dog for a drug search, but one was not available soon enough. “We have had to let them go and are potentially missing some,” Smith said.

Petersen was excited for the chance to be a K-9 handler, after working in various other police positions for the past 14 years.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

Django and Petersen will begin drug detection training in July and patrol work training in September, where he will learn to apprehend suspects and conduct building searches. In the meantime, the partners have been participating in weekly trainings with the Utah County K-9 Team.

“Every week is different,” Petersen said.

Django has also been learning to socialize and get accustomed to human interaction. “The longer he lives with Chris, the more social he gets,” Smith said. “He is turning out to be a nice, sweet dog.”

The new K-9 was fully funded by the department’s Honorary Colonels. In fact, the Colonels have made the decision to fund the K-9 program in Pleasant Grove in perpetuity, according to Mike Petersen, Honorary Colonels president.

“The K-9 program in Pleasant Grove is a huge part of our police department. These K-9s help with more than just narcotic detection. They help keep officers safe by apprehension and sometimes just their presence causes suspects to comply with officers,” Mike Petersen said. “The K-9s are also amazing for community outreach and our safe schools. The Colonels felt that this was the best use of our fundraising efforts, to ensure the Pleasant Grove Police Department is not without a K-9.”

The Honorary Colonels plan to fund the K-9 program through yearly fundraisers and are even hoping to be able to purchase a second K-9 for the department in the near future.

One fundraiser, a car show, is coming up on June 15, and is one of the first events of Strawberry Days. Last year, more than 120 vehicles entered.

“We had classic cars and trucks as well as super cars and newer sports cars,” Mike Petersen said.

The car show will be held at Shannon Fields by the Rodeo Grounds, 220 S. State St. in Pleasant Grove. There is no entry fee for vehicle admission.

Funds are raised through sponsors and tickets for the drawing prizes. More information can be found at http://www.pgcityhc.org.