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Fort Collins Faces

Officer Brett Dollar and Her K9 Yago

Fort Collins police pride themselves on being friendly, but it takes a special member of the force to let you scratch them behind their ears. Yago is a furry four-legged member of the Fort Collins elite K9 unit that helps keep citizens and police alike safe. When a suspect is holed up in a building or on the run, K9s like Yago are deployed to help track and ultimately capture the fugitive. K9s' noses are also highly sensitive to smells, which comes in handy when searching a vehicle or area for drugs. Before ever engaging a suspect, Yago's handler Police Officer Brett Dollar always gives the criminal in question an opportunity to give up peacefully.

The majority of the time, 90 percent, when Yago starts barking and baring his teeth the suspect will surrender. In some cases the K9 is sent in to subdue the perpetrator by latching on to a limb and not letting go until commanded by its handler.

On a recent sunny afternoon at City Park, Officer Dollar demonstrated for a group of City employees and their families just how obedient Yago can be.

Yago is trained from an early age to respond to commands in Czechoslovakian; when he complies he receives a treat. For Yago, that treat is a chew toy. 

Officer Dollar sends Yago through a series of basic commands before bringing out the 'bad guy' which, for training, is another officer wearing thick protective pads. 

With several deft commands Yago flies through the grass like a hurricane of fur and fangs, eager to bite the officer. Then just feet from his target, Officer Dollar commands him to sit. On a dime, Yago complies, kneeling at the foot of his target.

It's easy to see why the majority of criminals choose handcuffs over fisticuffs with these fierce dogs. 

Officer Dollar gives Yago permission to bite, and he sinks his teeth into the giant pad on the officer's forearm. 

For Yago, searching for drugs and chasing down bad guys is just one big game. It's one part of what makes K9s so effective. They dont attack out of anger or viciousness. They view the criminal as a big chew toy.

To emphasize this point, moments after tangling with the faux perpetrator, Yago is surrounded by small children who angle to pet him.

Fort Collins Police Services have five dogs in their K9 unit. All serve a dual purpose in patrol work and narcotics detection. At the end of the day each dog gets to go home with their best friend, in this case Officer Dollar, where they live.