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Keeping The Community Safe
K9 Unit
K9 Unit
Deputy Marcy Matos of the Stanislaus County Sheriffs Department is shown with her K9 partner Sam. The two have been patrolling the streets of Riverbank and keeping the community safe since September 2011. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Marcy Matos and her best friend and partner Sam have been patrolling the streets of Riverbank and keeping the community safe since September 2011. The two are a well-known and familiar team around the City of Action.

Sam is a five-year-old Dutch Shepherd from Holland. He has had approximately four apprehensions and between 12 to 15 surrenders to his credit as a K9 officer. As part of their work in apprehending suspects, Deputy Matos makes an announcement letting the suspect know that she will release the dog if necessary. So usually they surrender, but Matos explained that sometimes they run anyway. There have been roughly another 125 to 140 other times Sam has been used for things like demonstrations at schools, building searches, residential searches, tracks and other agency requests.

There are nine K9 units within the county and they will assist other agencies in the area.

The handlers are also equipped with a device that they carry on them that will pop open the police car door and release the dog when they are away from their vehicle, in case the officer needs assistance.

Matos explained that she had to use the door pop the other day on a call where the suspect was resisting arrest and being very hostile. Once the dog was released the situation changed for the better. The dogs are taught to protect their handlers.

“Sam came out of the vehicle like a bullet,” said Matos.

She also added that Sam has an amazing temperament, that he has an ‘on-off’ switch and knows when it’s go time or time to relax. There is no gray area for him.

“These dogs are a deterrent and worth their weight in gold,” said Matos.

There are many agencies that get dogs for their K9 units, which come from Adlerhorst International, Inc. in Riverside; CA. Adlerhorst was founded by Dave Reaver, who has been providing Police Service Dogs since 1976.

“The guy’s a genius when it comes to K9s,” said Matos. “He goes overseas and brings back the best of the best dogs.”

Matos has been with the Sheriff’s Department for eight years and has worked as part of a K9 unit for two years. There is a process in becoming a K9 unit that takes specific training and time for the handler and dog to become a team.

“I see longevity with the unit. I love doing it,” said Matos. “K9’s get the best calls.”

As a youngster Matos remembers watching police officers and wanting to become a cop herself. She grew up on a farm and had dogs so she always had a passion for the K9 units.

“There’s nothing better than working with your best friend,” said Matos. “To me it’s the best thing ever.”

The Sheriff’s Department assigns the K9 units a vehicle that they take home. Sam lives with Matos so they are always together.

“Our bond is great,” said Matos. “We just click.”

The dogs normally stay on duty until they are eight or nine. Then they will be allowed to retire. The county gives the handler the option to purchase the retired canine and the fee can be as small as one dollar.

“They work so hard for us so we let them enjoy retirement for a little while,” said Matos.

Since Sam is only five, he has about four more years on the job. After that Matos plans on purchasing him and possibly getting another dog to continue on as a K9 unit.