Jena, an eight-year-old police dog with the Escondido Police Department, has had an esteemed career: She’s been on the job for four years, been brought to more than 1,000 crime scenes, and found drugs on suspects or in vehicles 88 times.
“She’s not our only drug dog, but she’s probably one of the most successful drug dogs we’ve had,” Escondido police Lt. Eric Skaja told U-T San Diego.
And this week, Jena made detective, making her the first dog the department’s history to earn the rank.
It’s a promotion, to be sure, but it also means that Jena will get to ease up a bit. Most police dogs retire after four or five years, due to the heavy physical demands of the job and the constant training. Jena was nearing retirement age, but her unique skills — narcotics detection — made her an asset the force didn’t want to lose. Another plus: Her handler, Lt. Skaja, was also making detective, and now the two get to stick together.
Her promotion frees her up from the daily grind of patrol and the ongoing training that canines go through.
“Canines train all the time, at least once a week,” Skaja said. “Can you imagine having one of your employees gone 25 percent of the time?”
And that training can be rough. Here’s a tweet from the Escondido department from a couple days ago:
— Escondido Police (@EscondidoPolice) January 16, 2015
With those responsibilities out of the way, the department will now have a narcotics dog close at hand whenever they need her. “She’s going to be busy,” said Skaja.
But when there are no cases to work, Jena gets to do what she loves best: Spend time with her fellow officers.
“She’s going to hang out,” Skaja said. “This is what Jena loves to do.”
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