News: Man’s best friend helps keep MCLB Barstow safe
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
BARSTOW, Calif. - The police unit aboard MCLB Barstow works hand-in-paw in keeping the base safe and secure. The dog’s handlers develop a relationship with their four-legged partners to build trust and maximize their efficiency on the job.
Everyone has heard the phrase, ‘man’s best friend’ and can tell you what it’s describing. But for the Marine Corps Police Department’s K-9 unit aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, the saying is more than a phrase; it’s their job.
The police unit aboard MCLB Barstow works hand-in-paw in keeping the base safe and secure. The dog’s handlers develop a relationship with their four-legged partners to build trust and maximize their efficiency on the job.
“We build a rapport with the dogs we handle and it starts on day one,” said MCPD Lt. Bob Ortiz, base kennel master. “When we go to the airport to pick up a new dog, the handler and their dog get an idea for one another the first time they ever meet,” he explained.
As the relationship between man and dog develops, so do the commands. A working relationship between the two needs to be established before anything intricate can be done.
“We work in baby steps at first,” said Ortiz. “We start by having the handlers walk their dog about the base; just having the two get used to each other’s company. Afterward, that’s when we start to throw in commands.”
K-9 often utilizes its dogs for jobs an ordinary police officer cannot complete. Their speed, heightened senses, and intimidation help maintain a safe base.
“We use them a lot to search and detect substances that shouldn’t be on base,” explained Anthony Seirafi, an officer and dog handler on base. “Their sense of smell makes them great for finding contraband,” he added.
Steven Goss, the K-9 trainer aboard the base, also explained how the dogs help play a role in base security on a psychological aspect.
“If you have a dog with you while you’re searching a vehicle or in company with a possible threat, there’s a sense of security there,” Goss said. “People are a lot more cautious or hesitant to do something when there’s a dog around. It’s an intimidation factor,” he added.
To keep the dogs in peak physical and mental readiness, everyone with the K-9 unit trains with the dogs on a daily basis.
“We train the dogs in several different areas,” explained Goss. “We work with them on things like obedience, attack work, and detection. To keep them on their toes and physically fit, we have an obstacle course we run them through as well,” he added.
K-9 brings a sense of pride to those within the unit. Every member is quick to agree about the love they have for their job.
“I’m very proud about the work I do as a K-9 handler,” said Gilbert Navarret, a handler and most junior member of the unit aboard the base. “My partner is someone that’ll never call in sick; he doesn’t take vacation. That’s something to be proud of,” he added.
When the handler’s canine companion nears the end of their career, they retire, just like their human counterparts.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a law into effect allowing military working dogs to be adopted after their retirement and their service to DoD is complete.
Through the bond formed between man and dog, a partnership rivaled by none, MCPD K-9 and their four-legged sidekicks keep MCLB Barstow safe from harm’s way.