Post-retirement, Westminster Police Department’s K9 Pako candle shines bright


Over his career as a police K9 for Westminster Police Department, Pako has held many jobs: patrol, narcotics, and most recently, K9 spokesmodel.

In fact, even long after his July 1 retirement, the 11-year-old Dutch shepherd will remain immortalized on Fox + Hound’s Tobacco Bay Soy Candle, with top notes of citrus, mid-tones of bergamot and tobacco, and hints of sandalwood and cedar. But K9 Pako isn’t just another handsome dog on a candle. Some of the candle’s proceeds from its sales will go toward assisting both active and retired K9s as well as the Westminster K9 Unit.

“We were excited to be able to showcase K9 Pako on a candle,” said Karen Doss, owner of Fox + Hound and president of Fox + Hound K9 Foundation in Missouri. “K9 Pako has been proudly serving the citizens of Westminster since 2015. It is an honor to be able to give back to the Westminster Police Department on behalf of Pako.”

Fox + Hound’s Tobacco Bay Soy Candle featuring Westminster Police K9 Pako. Photo provided by Deanna Hartman

Fox + Hound donates $5 for every retail candle sold to the K9 unit featured on the candle, and $1 is donated to the Fox + Hound K9 Foundation. However, if the K9 unit is well funded, they can donate the entire $6 to the Fox + Hound K9 Foundation to help other K9 teams needing assistance.

Doss said when she started the company, she learned that most police departments were not budgeted for some of the expenses the K9 units incurred.

“We also discovered when a K9 retires, the handler was responsible for all expenses of the retired K9 that faithfully served their community,” she said. “We knew we found our mission.”

In the last couple of years leading up to Pako’s retirement, his handler Officer Travis Hartman has discovered the joys of giving back to nonprofits with the help of his K9 partner.

Westminster Police Deputy Chief Cameron Knauerhaze, from left, with K9 handler Officer Travis Hartman, Chief of Police Darin Lenyi, and K9 supervisor Sgt. Cindy Sweasy. Photo provided by Deanna Hartman

Last year, Hartman and Pako helped raise close to $30,000 with a team of K9 handlers nationally through a social media campaign for Operation Freedom Paws, which is a nonprofit that matches dogs with veterans who have post traumatic stress, complex-post traumatic stress, and/or traumatic brain injury symptoms, or other physical, neurological, psychological or mobility needs. The organization trains each veteran to train their dog and then certifies them as a service dog team. Most of the dogs in the program are rescues.

“They also try to pick dogs from kennels and pounds to rehab the dog while helping the human,” said Hartman. “Super awesome program.”

Hartman said that when he was looking at retiring Pako and leaving the K9 program, he felt motivated to leave something behind for the next generation of police K9 teams — which is how the K9 candle happened.

“It’s a really nice way to be leaving, looking back …leaving knowing that I’ve set up the candle sales so my agency’s program will continue to benefit from the work that me and Pako did for seven years,” he said.

Westminster Officer Travis Hartman and K9 Pako. Photo provided by Deanna Hartman