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Foundation helps Beaverton buy new K-9 police officer

TIMES PHOTO: ERIC APALATEGUI - K-9 Officer Atlas poses for photos along with Chief Geoff Spalding (right) and Ryan Smith, executive director of the Spirit of Blue Foundation.The Beaverton Police Department gratefully accepted a $2,500 check to help pay for a new police dog.

That dog, K-9 Officer-in-Training Atlas, gratefully accepted all the pets he could get during a brief ceremony at the department Monday.

The grant money came through the Spirit of Blue Foundation, a nonprofit that provides extra safety equipment to police agencies. Executive director Ryan Smith is a former reserve officer in Beaverton.

“These dogs will do anything and everything to protect the lives of officers on duty,” Smith said.

Smith said the Beaverton money came from his nonprofit organization’s recent partnership with the foundation for Planet Dog, which donates a percentage of sales of its dog toys and products to benefit canine-related charities. Beaverton’s grant was the first such grant through that partnership, Smith said.

“We knew this was a really good agency,” said Smith, who now lives in western New York but previously worked in marketing at Nike and Gerber Knives while also spending six years serving Beaverton’s reserve program, becoming the fourth generation of his family to work in law enforcement.

The grant will end up paying for about a quarter of the cost of buying and training Atlas, one of two new German shepherds Beaverton Police acquired in December.

Officer Matt Barrington is about half way through a 10-week training program with Atlas. Another officer, Jared Lutu, is training with his new K-9 partner Toa at the same time. Both dogs are about 2 years old and soon will be ready for active duty.

“It’s kind of always been a goal of mine, to be a K-9 handler,” Barrington said. “It’s one of the reasons I got into law enforcement.”

Chief Geoff Spalding said the remaining funding for the city’s K-9 program, which employs a total of five officer and dog teams, comes from the city budget and occasional gifts, including $10,000 from an anonymous donor.

“It’s a program that people just love,” Spalding said. “There’s a lot of passionate dog people.”

Atlas and Toa are filling the big paws of K-9 Officer Jago, who retired last fall after nearly a decade on the beat, and K-9 Officer Alex, who is retiring this week after seven years of duty.

TIMES PHOTO: ERIC APALATEGUI - K-9 Officer Atlas sniffs a television camera operator before taking part in a ceremony to accept a grant for the Beaverton Police Department's K-9 program.