Furry law enforcers exhibit obedience, agility at High Desert K-9 Challenge in Rifle

Garfield County Sheriff's Office K-9 Bull holds a ball in his mouth Saturday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

K-9 units from law enforcement agencies across Colorado, Wyoming and Utah participated in the High Desert K-9 Challenge at the Garfield County Fairgrounds and Events Center on Saturday.

The event was sponsored by the 2022 Spring K-9 Challenge for the High Desert Police K-9 Association. This nonprofit association offers training and certification for K-9 teams throughout Colorado and neighboring states.

The K-9s and their handlers began the competition with an obedience course followed by a test in agility through various obstacles. Teams also participated in a timed running event, a muzzled attack competition and a final full-force bite attack competition.

Teams were divided into two categories for the competition, including K-9s from 2-5 years old and those over 5, a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office news release states.

K-9 Teka shows off a strong bite Saturday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Garfield County Investigator Tony Korthals and his K-9 partner Aren took second place in the bite competition for K-9s ages 2-5.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Trisha Worley, also a liaison at Coal Ridge High School, said events like this are great ways to showcase the importance of K-9 officers.

“This event helps, one, bring awareness to the community of what canine teams do. Two, it builds relationships between police and our communities that we work in,” she said. “And then, three, any of the money that’s raised today helps support our training for our teams when we’re active.”

Garfield County Sheriff's Office K-9 Messi bites on a toy Saturday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Worley also said funds raised from the event go toward supported veterinarian and funeral costs once K-9s retire.

Worley handles a German shorthaired pointer K-9 named Bull, who is one of the last remaining Colorado K-9s trained to detect marijuana.

“These guys are their tools, but they’re invaluable tools,” Worley said of K-9s. “We can’t do what they do.”

Admission was free with various raffle items, silent auction items, and food and beverages at a nominal cost, the release states.

Funds raised by the High Desert Police K-9 Association are used to assist handlers and their families with the ongoing costs of maintaining and caring for their K-9 partners once they retire.

“K-9’s typically train their first two years and are then ‘paired’ with a handler,” the release states. “They work closely with their handler for the next seven to eight years depending on the dog’s ability and health.”

When K-9s retire, they often are cared for by the families of the handlers themselves. At this point all costs associated with the K-9 are inherited by the handler and their family.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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