New puppies welcomed into Rifle PD
As he enters the twilight of his career, Tulo, the Rifle Police Department’s drug-sniffing dog, will get to watch his successors grow into the role that has put him among the most famous canines on the Western Slope.
Thanks to New Castle’s Carter Fulk, the Rifle Police Department’s newest members, Jax and Makai, were welcomed to town at Rifle City Council last Wednesday as they will eventually follow in Tulo’s pawprints and become members of Rifle’s K9 Unit.
“We found out that Tulo would be retiring and wanted to get involved,” said Carter Fulk, who was with his mom, Michaela.
Carter thought about starting a lemonade stand, but instead elected to create a GoFundMe campaign to get Rifle’s police new dogs. In just a few weeks the fund raised $1,540 to purchase Jax and Makai.
Officer Garrett Duncan, handler for Tulo and Makai, said that he expects both puppies to be out in the field by this time next year.
“We are just working on the basics right now,” he explained. “It’s all repetition and positive reinforcement.”
Duncan has been a handler for the department since 2010, working with Tulo since he came to Rifle.
Officer Jared Bartunex was recently named a second handler for the department and will serve as the handler for Jax.
Jax and Makai will stay at their respective handlers’ home when not working.
Though Tulo has had a long and successful run with the department, he was trained to sniff for marijuana; therefore Tulo’s hits for drugs are no longer unassailable. Because marijuana is legal in Colorado, a dog alerting to drugs in general may not provide legally sound probable cause for a search.
“Dogs that can sniff for marijuana get called into question more in court and can make things more difficult,” Duncan explained.
Tulo, 9, is around the typical age of retirement for police dogs, so new dogs would eventually have to be phased in. He will continue to serve as the face of the Rifle Police Department.
Without a K9 budget, Fulk’s fundraising was welcomed by the Rifle PD.
Rifle City Council and Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein named Fulk an honorary canine officer and presented him with a plaque for his achievement.
Klein said that Jax and Makai will hopefully serve Rifle for the next 10 years or more and told Carter, who wants to be a police officer when he grows up, to call him in seven to eight years.
With a goal of $2,500, Fulk is still looking for more donations to pay for vet bills and other costs. To help support the K9 Unit visit http://tinyurl.com/RiflePDfund.