Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Police Dog Service members Kevin Rutten and Brady Kyle and police canine Hawkes runs through a Vernon neighbourhood Dec. 8, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Police Dog Service members Kevin Rutten and Brady Kyle and police canine Hawkes runs through a Vernon neighbourhood Dec. 8, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon canine cops’ careers ramp up

Police Dog Services called out for 79% of annual calls in last half of 2020

Jagger and Hawkes have been making headlines regularly for the past six months as they responded to more than 79 per cent of Vernon’s total calls in that time.

A change in the way Police Dog Service interventions are recorded explains the surge of calls, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP media relations officer Const. Chris Terleski said. Previously, only instances where PDS successfully established a track were recorded in quarterly reports. Now, any instance where Jagger, Hawkes and their handlers are called out, it is recorded.

In 2020, the PDS members Kevin Rutten and Brady Kyle, and their German shepherds, responded to 58 calls in Vernon and Coldstream, plus another 42 in the Greater Vernon Area. Last year, they were only recorded on a total of 31 occasions.

The fourth-quarter RCMP report from October to December 2020, shows the PDS intervened 12 times in rural North Okanagan and 17 in Vernon and Coldstream.

But that’s just a small glimpse of the work they do.

Vernon North Okanagan has two working PDS teams who rotate shifts and are available on call 24-7, Terleski said.

“Kev and I cover here, Sicamous, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke,” said Kyle. “It’s quite a big area.”

“The next closest handlers are in Kelowna and Kamloops,” Rutten added.

In the past quarter alone, the duo and their dogs tracked a suspect from a stolen vehicle to an Enderby residence; located a high-risk missing youth in rural Spallumcheen; tracked down a suspect hiding behind a tree in attempts to evade arrest after stealing a vehicle in Spallumcheen; and helped in the search and arrest of high-risk offender Robert Heltman, who was wanted on a Canada-wide arrest warrant, on Westside Road.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Police Dog Service member Brady Kyle and canine Hawkes sniff in a Vernon yard during a Dec. 8, 2020, training exercise. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Police Dog Service member Brady Kyle and canine Hawkes sniff in a Vernon yard during a Dec. 8, 2020, training exercise. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Rutten said the PDS is a division unlike any other.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for 16 years.

“You’re outside all the time, you get to ride with your dog, so you have him to keep you company. You go to the best calls, the hot calls, usually the more important calls so you don’t get tied down with more boring stuff,” he said after a successful tracking practice through a Vernon neighbourhood on Dec. 8, 2020. “Plus, you cover an area, which is nice because you get out of town and you can travel a bit.”

Injuries, however, are a common occurrence as handlers follow their dogs over uneven terrain and obstacles while tracking their subject.

“Jumping fences in the dark and tripping into holes — guys do tend to accumulate a lot of injuries throughout their service,” Rutten said.

Before getting the gig of a lifetime, handlers undertake a six-month course in Red Deer to become part of the dog section. Once that’s complete, members are paired with a dog from the breeding program.

Jagger is Rutten’s third dog. He said his two previous were with him seven years each, “which is uncommon.”

“My dog that I have now was being worked by a different handler in the field, but he left the section,” he said. “Jagger was already a trained dog, so I did what they call a re-team course, which is basically a three-week familiarization between you and the dog.”

READ MORE: Vernon police dog sniffs out Enderby man evading arrest

READ MORE: Kelowna man caught by Vernon police dog

The two handlers keep their dogs in tip-top shape, running exercises regularly. A track is established by an officer beforehand and the dogs must trace the scent before being rewarded — with some seriously deserved playtime.

“You’ve got to be used to slobber in this field,” Rutten said.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP member Brady Kyle and Hawkes have some well-deserved playtime after a successful track exercise Dec. 8, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP member Brady Kyle and Hawkes have some well-deserved playtime after a successful track exercise Dec. 8, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

On that chilly December afternoon, Rutten and Kyle ran Jagger and Hawkes across busy streets and through backyards in a Vernon neighbourhood in broad daylight.

“It could be anything,” Terleski explained mid-jog. “We could be running through people’s yards, jumping over fences… It’s not really a normal sight, but for the most part, people kind of understand.”

When homeowners and residents see a dog running through followed by handlers and uniformed officers, people tend to keep their distance, Terleski said.

Terleski noted neighbours are often informed of planned exercises so they’re not so surprised — but, that’s not a courtesy that can often be extended while a real police situation unfolds.

When the work is said and done, Jagger and Hawkes reside with their handlers.

“They are part of their family,” Terleski said.

READ MORE: Vernon RCMP’s newest member wet behind ears – and all over

READ MORE: Cougar destroyed after killing goat, attacking donkey in Vernon


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carson Meikle prepares a hot beverage while his mother, Jenna Meikle, is busy in the background at The Night Cafe, located at 146 Lakeshore Drive. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Artistic Salmon Arm entrepreneurs branch into culinary arts with The Night Café

Adam and Jenna Meikle grateful for ongoing community support

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Friends enjoy a cool morning walk along Canoe Beach on Saturday morning, March 6, 2021. Later on in the day the beach and other city parks and playground were busy with people out enjoying the afternoon sun. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Snapshot: Cool morning walk on Canoe Beach

Friends enjoy a cool morning walk along Canoe Beach on Saturday morning,… Continue reading

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Most Read