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Canine Cop Calls it a Career


Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari.
Zari, the Arcata Police patrol dog, has retired after eight and a half years of service.

During his career with APD, Zari, a German shepherd who joined the force in 2008, was present for more than 1,000 arrests and assisted in many high-risk situations. In 2013, he located a double murder suspect hiding in the bushes and, that same year, also helped search for homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes and Petrolia.

The patrol dog was born in the Czech Republic and imported to the United States to train at a company called Witmer Tyson. Most of the company’s dogs are born and trained in Germany or the Czech Republic. Zari is retiring because of old age and APD said it is no longer practical for him to serve.

Matthew O’Donovan, an Arcata Police officer and handler for the retired patrol dog Baron, started a GoFund me page in order to fundraise for another canine. The fundraising goal is $15,000, which will pay for the dog and its training, as well as supplies, including a knife and bullet proof vest.

“The K-9 unit plays a vital role in the department,” the charity page states.

Ginger Campbell, nicknamed by the Arcata Police department as the “fairy dog mother,” helped raise money for Zari, who cost about $20,000 to train and get prepared. In order to fundraise for the dog, Campbell reached out to local newspapers and asked the community for help.

“When I said I would fundraise for another dog,” Campbell said, “I just figured it would be $4,000 or $5,000 but when It was about $20,000, I had to do a lot more.”

When she had close to enough money to afford the dog, APD scrounged up enough money to fill the void.

According to an APD press release, Zari took part in many canine demonstrations at schools and community groups. Campbell thinks this is important because the dog helped bridge gaps between law enforcement and local youth.

Campbell didn’t just raise money to get the dogs, she also had to raise money to pay for bullet and knife proof vests. She said these are important because the dogs will go to any means to protect their police officer.

“Their main job is to protect the police officer,” Campbell said. “They will die for their police officer.”

Zari will live out his retirement in the care of his handler, APD. Sgt. Ron Sligh, and his family.

Arcata Police Service Canine, “Zari” is retiring after eight and a half years of dedicated service to the community. Zari, the K9 partner of Sergeant Ron Sligh, is retiring due to normal age related ailments that make it no longer practical for him to serve. Zari began his service to the City of Arcata in June of 2008 and his official last day was January 13th, 2017. Zari is a sable colored German Shepherd that was born on March 23rd, 2007 in the Czech Republic. He was imported to the United States by the Witmer-Tyson Kennels of Menlo Park, California in June 2008.
Sgt Sligh and Zari attended the basic patrol handler’s course in Newark, California, which culminated in the Police Officers Standard’s in Training (POST) certification. Since attending the basic handlers course, Sgt Sligh and Zari have attended thousands of hours of maintenance training and certified annually to POST Standards.
During Zari’s career he has responded to numerous high risk incidents in the City of Arcata and all over Humboldt County. As part of mutual aid requests from almost all law enforcement agencies in the county, Zari has been a regional asset.  Some of the more notable incidents that Zari has been involved in are; in 2009 he assisted in the apprehension of a home invasion robbery suspect that attempted to flee the scene. Also in 2009, Zari came to the aid of Sgt Sligh in arresting a suspect that was violently resisting arrest and who had assaulted Sgt Sligh. Again in 2009, Sgt Sligh and Zari responded to assist the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team in searching a vehicle that had crashed during a high speed pursuit, near Willow Creek. The suspects in the vehicle had committed an armed robbery and had been shooting at pursuing officers during the pursuit.
In 2013, Zari located a double homicide suspect who was hiding in the bushes. Zari and Sgt Sligh assisted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s SWAT Team in the apprehension of two homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes. Zari was part of the muti-agency response to search for a homicide suspect in Petrolia. Zari assisted in the apprehension of another homicide suspect. Zari was called in by Humboldt County District Attorney Investigators to search a residence where a vehicular manslaughter suspect was hiding. Zari located the suspect hiding under a bed.
Zari was present on over a thousand arrests during his career. On the vast majority of those arrests the suspects were taken into custody without resisting or attempting to flee. Within in the last month, Sgt Sligh and Zari were able to arrest a felony warrant suspect, who has a history of fleeing, without incident.
Zari and Sgt Sligh conducted many K9 demonstrations over the years for schools and community groups.  Zari has enjoyed interacting with the department’s staff and made a special friendship with Police Services Assistant Bev Bence in the department’s front office.
Zari will be able to enjoy his retirement in the care of the Sligh Family.

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