The El Portal police squad has its first four-legged member: A Siberian husky named Arctic was sworn-in Tuesday at the village council meeting.
Arctic is the first community K-9 for the El Portal Police Department, part of the village’s Community Policing K-9 program. His role is therapeutic, said El Portal police officer Ronnie Hufnagel, who will care for the dog.
“Arctic is not a bite, drug, bomb or sniff dog,” she said. “Those dogs are not to interact with victims, resident, seniors, business owners nor other members of the staff. ... but Arctic can. He can somehow make all of your problems, complaints and even your sorrow go away if even for a little while."
El Portal is one of few police departments in the nation to have such program, the village said.
Arctic, about 2, was abandoned and apparently wandered into El Portal. A resident brought him to the police station.
In order for Arctic to become the police department’s newest member, he had to complete several courses, such as the Basic and Advanced Training Obedience Program. He also has been certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen.
“As long as we are on duty, our villages can interact with Arctic at any given time,” Hufnagel said.
El Portal Mayor Claudia Cubillos said the village welcomed Arctic into the police department.
“It’s always about the residents, whatever we can do to make them feel safe, feel part of the process and part of the community,” she said. “Arctic was a natural fit. In a village that already loves dogs and appreciates our community policing efforts, this was a win-win.”
Aside from participating at village events, Arctic has also been involved with Miami-Dade Citizen Crime Watch. He is “active” on his own village Facebook page, where followers can see pictures of Arctic’s daily activities.
Hufnagel, who owns two teacup Chihuahuas, said that Arctic brings more than just hard work to El Portal.
“Arctic is the best partner ever,” she said. “On those hard and frustrating days, he makes them easier to deal with.”