At first glance, Chase is a fun loving, overly exuberant, pedigreed English Springer Spaniel.
With a liver and white coat and a birth certificate that shows a family lineage of notable English Spaniels with names like Joyful Little Josh and Bramble Lane Tara, Chase isn’t exactly what people expect to see roll up with Pasadena Police Department’s Narcotics unit.
But once his paw hits the floor at a crime scene, there isn’t a narcotic this spry canine can’t find with his well-trained “sniffer.”
We had a chance to sit down with his handler, a Pasadena Narcotics Detective who prefers to keep his identity a secret due to sensitive cases he and Chase are working on. He was able to share insight on Chase’s arrival to the department and how the City’s single purpose K9 is cracking cases, finding drugs and getting the bad guys.
“To him, it’s all a game,” said his handler. “He is looking for the ‘sniffs’ and from the moment he gets out of the cage — he knows its game time and he is ready to go.”
BTB: Where did you get Chase?
PASADENA PD: Chase is from a breeder in the United Kingdom. We got the idea from the Los Angeles Police Department who has their own single purpose K9. We had enough cases coming through Pasadena that we felt our Department could sustain having its own dog. We got him a year and half ago and we started training together. Now he’s my partner.
BTB: What was training like for you and Chase?
PASADENA PD: The breeders do some initial work, they cut up pieces of tennis balls and have them hunting around. But, once we get them and if we like the temperament of the dog, then we start training as a team.
Together we took a handler course and we learned how to pick up “sniffs”, how to follow motions, give hand signals and also how to go from home life to work life. When we get to work, he knows that we aren’t playing games.
When we were training, it started simple, with putting pipes in boxes with the narcotics and he had to “sniff” and find it. When he did, he was immediately rewarded. The more you do, the better he gets.
BTB: What is he trained to find?
PASADENA PD: Meth, cocaine, heroine and derivatives that make up those drugs.
BTB: What is his biggest motivator?
PASADENA PD: For Chase, everything is about playing. His biggest motivator isn’t treats or petting (although he is OK with it), for him it’s about getting the tennis ball. He is a great fetching dog and he could do it all day.
BTB: What has been his best case?
PASADENA PD: Chase is gung-ho about everything, but his first deployment was probably the most exciting. We went through training together and I was nervous, we didn’t know if he was ready. But at a certain point, you have to trust your dog. On our first case, we stopped a narcotic transporter seller, we had very little information — so, we had to trust Chase 100 percent.
We let him loose in the car and he immediately went under the dashboard and pointed with his nose underneath the radio. We pried it open and underneath it, in this little plastic corner there was a little over $1,000 and 250 grams of narcotics. It was a small seizure, but it was his first time and we didn’t know what to expect from him.
We knew he had just made the cut.
BTB: Why are these breeds used for detective work?
PASADENA PD: Spaniels are hunters. It’s part of their genetics.
Everyone knows German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are the dogs you see out on patrol. They do explosive detection, building searches and suspect tracking. When a suspect sees them, they just want to surrender.
But Chase, he’s a hunter. He wants to find things. But he’s always happy, ready to work and eager.
BTB: Is Chase out in the community getting to the know everyone?
PASADENA PD: We try to take Chase out to the community for certain events. He wear his vest, special made police badge and people love to meet him.
But like the rest of us in the narcotics team, we try to keep a low profile. We are always working cases and we need to stay out of the spotlight. Chase and I go undercover and we go for walks or do stake outs where we just look like a regular guy taking his dog out. We were able to get a large seizure recently because we stood across the street of a home while Chase was using the restroom.
If people start to recognize us, we won’t be able to do it.
BTB: What was the initial cost to get Chase trained and on the Pasadena PD team?
PASADENA PD: To get the program up and running, the initial cost was about $13,506, this includes training for Chase and me. But since he has been out on the field starting June 29, 2017, we’ve seen a huge return on his investment with money, guns and drugs recovered thanks to his ‘sniffer.’
30 pounds of heroin
270 pounds of cocaine
160 pounds of meth
He is a great extra resource that we are able to use at a moments notice. Plus, he loves working. And he’s pretty cute.
Things to Know about Chase
Name: Chase came from the Nickelodeon children’s television series, PAW PATROL, where the dog’s slogan is “Chase is on the Case.”
Favorite toy: Tennis Ball. All day, every day.
Personality Profile: Hardworking, high-energy, chronic licker, can’t stop-won’t stop attitude, cuteness.
Favorite thing to do when he’s off-duty: Playing chase with his family.