BY SANDRA STOKLEY, STAFF WRITER
Published: April 10, 2014; 04:02 PM
When David Reaver heard the news last month about Anaheim K-9 officer Bruno being shot in the face by a man pursued by police, he had an instant reaction.
“Bruno did what he was trained to do,” Reaver said. “Protect his handler.”
“The dog is the buffer between the officer and the suspect,” he said. Reaver knows what he’s talking about.
Since 1975, Reaver, 75, has trained thousands of K-9s at his seven-acre property in Jurupa Valley: Adlerhorst International Inc. – K-9 Training Academy. Adlerhorst has provided and trained dogs for law enforcement agencies across the western U.S. including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington and California.
In the Inland area, Adlerhorst-trained dogs are serving as K-9 officers for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and police departments in Riverside, Corona, Ontario and Chino. Last year, Reaver and his wife Pip donated a K-9 named Django to the Jurupa Valley.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Capt. Danny Feltenberger, who serves as Jurupa Valley police chief, said that in eight months, Django has taken down several fleeing suspects by biting them. He’s found several more. He also represents the department at public events and interacts well with children.
Feltenberger called Reaver the “godfather” of K-9 training.
“He’s truly a legend in this area,” he said.
Reaver said he got his start in dog training while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Europe in 1960.
He got interested in the sport of schutzhund, a competition that tests a canine’s skills in protection, obedience, tracking and detection. When he returned to the U.S., Reaver said he started a schutzhund club, the second in the U.S.
Schutzhund training dovetailed with what law enforcement agencies were looking for in police dogs. Eventually Reaver began selling dogs to law enforcement agencies.
“In 1975, I was a hobbyist and earned my living as an electrician,” Reaver said.
By 1980, the demand was so great, Reaver gave up his day job and turned his attention to the K-9 academy.
Reaver and his wife, 61, make several trips to Europe every year to buy dogs that are then shipped to the academy for training.
Reaver said German shepherd and Belgian Malinois dogs are his preferred breeds because of their pure bloodlines and traits that make them ideal for police work. That work includes protection, tracking, and detection of explosives and narcotics.
The Malinois are active, friendly, protective and hard-working. They have a strong drive to chase prey, which makes them perfect for tracking, and a desire for rewards, which makes them easy to train.
German shepherds rank third on the dog intelligence scale. They are protective, curious and willing to learn.
Reaver buys dogs that have been raised in a family environment, which he says is critical to the dog’s ability to bond with his handler.
“People who warehouse dogs … it just doesn’t work,” Reaver said. “Dogs need socializing and interaction with humans.”
Training focuses on a dog’s innate ability to track prey – its sense of smell is hundreds of thousand of times greater than a human. Another focus is a dog’s desire to protect humans and its need for rewards.
An Adlerhorst dog doesn’t come cheap. A fully-trained K-9 costs about $15,000. But the canines more than earn their keep. Reaver said a K-9 saves between 800 to 1,000 man hours per year by performing more efficiently in searching buildings, apprehending suspects, tracking missing persons and locating narcotics or explosives.
That doesn’t include the lives saved when a K-9 like Bruno takes a bullet for his partner.
Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt called Bruno’s actions “heroic.”
“He’s done everything he’s been asked to do and everything he has been trained to do,” Schmidt said.
Bruno, a 7-year-old German Shepherd, continues his recuperation at Yorba Regional Animal Hospital. The K-9 will retire from the department and become a full-time companion dog to his handler Officer R.J. Young and his family.
Contact Sandra Stokley at 951-368-9647 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Police and Working K-9 Foundation’s Faithful Partner Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial, on the grounds of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, honors K-9 officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The most recent inductees are:
MAX: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Died Aug. 25, 2011
IKE: Palm Springs Police Department. Died April 17, 2011
ADO: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Died Jan. 18, 2009
NIKO: San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. Died July 26, 2009
BILLY: Alameda Police Department. Died Dec. 17, 2009