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Canines connect community at Bark in the Park

Oct 31, 2017 11:21AM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Dogs enjoyed Bark in the Park freebie Frisbees. (Dan Metcalf, Jr./Cottonwood Heights)

Gallery: Bark in the Park [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Joshua Wood | joshw@mycityjournals.com

In a community that loves its animals, dogs helped bring hundreds of people together during the annual Bark in the Park event at Mountview Park on Sept. 16. Dog owners got to enjoy the sunshine, special canine access to the park’s splash pad, obstacle courses, local business giveaways and a demonstration from the Cottonwood Heights Police K-9 unit.

Bark in the Park is held each year to showcase the unique sway that dogs have in the community. Event co-coordinator Kris Monty shared her enthusiasm for the event. “Bark in the Park helps bring the community together,” Monty said. “And it’s awesome that we have a K-9 unit in Cottonwood Heights. People get to see how much training the police dogs get.”

This year’s Bark in the Park also featured dog demonstrations by Dianne Roberg, a local dog trainer. She offered training tips and provided entertainment for the crowd. “This event helps us get out and enjoy the community,” Roberg said. “There is so much to know about dogs. The more I learn, the less I realize I know.”

To help teach community members more about dogs, the Cottonwood Heights Police K-9 unit offered a demonstration of their dogs’ capabilities. They featured three dogs, two Belgian malinoises and one yellow lab. Under the expert guidance of their officer handlers, the dogs showed off their ability to sniff out narcotics and track suspects. In one demonstration, an officer lined up four orange traffic cones, one with something hidden inside. Each time the cones were rearranged, the dog would sniff out its target, and sit by it to signal to the officer and enjoy the crowd’s applause.

The dogs also showed off their ability to track down criminal suspects. Each dog is trained to engage a suspect, hold on, and not let go until told to do so. Officer Ken Eatchel, who conducted the demonstration, said the dogs are deployed three to four times per shift and are trained to follow a suspect’s scent. “We haven’t found anyone yet who can outrun the dogs,” Eatchel said.

According to Officer Bryan Betenson, “Each dog needs 640 hours of training to certify for the K-9 unit.” Betenson demonstrated the results of that training as his dog Kai grasped and held onto the arm of a fellow officer in a padded suit to demonstrate how the dogs defend their partners. As soon as the officer simulated an aggressive move toward Betenson, Kai was there to take hold of the situation.

“This is an opportunity for the community to see what the dogs can do,” Betenson added.

Community members in attendance got to run their dogs through a number of obstacles including ramps, tubes and barriers to leap over. The K-9 unit then led their three dogs through the course to show off their training. The tallest obstacle showed how the dogs can scale a six-foot-high fence when in pursuit of a suspect.

After a run through the obstacle course, any dog that wanted to could cool down on the Mountview Park splash pad, which was shutting down for the season. With dozens of dogs of varying sizes in attendance, the splash pad served as an ideal spot for a canine meet-and-greet.

Bark in the Park also featured booths and displays by local companies and treat bags and tennis balls for all the dogs in attendance.

Event co-coordinator Jamie Jackson summed up the event by stating, “It’s nice being part of a community that loves dogs so much.”  

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