LAFAYETTE, LA — The Lafayette Police Department is asking the Lafayette Consolidated Government council to approve an almost $16,000 budget revision to replace a K-9 officer.
Authorities discovered Ripo had lymphoma earlier this week and made the tough decision to euthanize him instead of letting him suffer Monday.
K-9 Concepts Inc. trains dogs that work across the country, including some purchased by the Lafayette Police Department. They quickly put in a request for a replacement that will cost the department $15,900.
“A lot of people think this is a lot of money, and it is expensive”, Jack Robicheaux explained. He owns K-9 Concepts Inc. in Broussard. He’s trained police dogs for more than 30 years, paying several thousand dollars to get the animals and train them.
Robicheaux says it takes a special dog to become a police dog, “If every dog would do it, we could just go to the animal shelter and say you 10 guys, five of you are going to be drug dogs. Five of you are going to be drug dogs. Boogity boogity. It doesn’t work like that”.
The process starts overseas. Law enforcement’s demand for K-9’s is so great in the states, Robicheaux buys and ships 99% of his dogs from Belgium, Holland, Hungary, and other European countries. Each dog is already two to three years old, specially bred, and has completed over a year of obedience training in their country.
Robicheaux said not every animal makes the cut, “Let’s say 100 dogs. He might find ten that are able to pass the test to be a dual purpose service animal”.
When K-9 Concepts Inc. gets a prospect, he goes through two weeks of testing his hunt, retrieve drive, stamina, and train-ability.
If it passes, the dog enters a 3-month training program.
If it fails, Robicheaux pays another thousand dollars to ship the animal back across the Atlantic.
The list of what a K-9 officer does is extensive Robicheaux explained, “Patrol dog has to do tracking, building search, area search, obedience, article searches. A whole bunch of stuff and if he’s trained for narcotics, he has to vehicle searches interior searches. That’s a lot for one dog to do”.
$16,000 sounds like a lot, but Robicheaux says with all the duties K-9 officers pay for themselves. “We had one that left here a few months ago. He’s already seized a million dollars. That helps the whole department buy equipment.”
He also says the bond between a handler and K-9 isn’t as easy to replace, “Everyone of them is different just like a different person”.
One trainer who works with the dogs at K-9 Concepts Inc. knows that truth well. He’s LPD Officer Derek Melancon who lost his best friend Ripo to cancer Monday.
According to Robicheaux, “They bond with the family. They become pretty much like a family member.”
To pay for the new K-9 officer the Lafayette Police Department considering moving funds that would buy a $10,000 utility task vehicle and also reducing their restroom renovations budget by $6,000.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will introduce the ordinance at their next meeting on September 17. They will vote for final adoption on October 1.