Safeco Field’s K9 Team
While the Mariners “9” have received a lot of attention on the field this season, there is another team that’s getting some notice lately – the K9 Explosive Detection Unit that patrols Safeco Field on game days.
King County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Akiona and his Springer Spaniel Chase, Deputy Joe Merclich and Rio, a black lab, and Seattle Police Officer Craig Williamson and his yellow lab Dennis can be seen around the ballpark checking for suspicious packages. The dogs are all trained to detect over 19,000 explosive combinations.
While they’re all business while they’re on duty, the K9 officers are still just dogs. They’re friendly, playful and very approachable. Deputy Akiona wanted to find a way to help communicate what they do with the curious fans who approach them at games. So, he came up with the idea of baseball cards. The cards have photos of the three dogs (and there’s one with all the units, including their human partners) that have information about the dogs on the back. Sort of like their “stats.”
Chase’s says that he came from a family in Lake Stevens who couldn’t keep him. He started training to be a bomb sniffing dog in November of 2011 and has been on the job since March 2012. He likes playing with other animals and his favorite thing is food.
Both Dennis and Rio flunked out of guide dog training as puppies due to their curious nature.
Chase, Dennis and Rio all live full time with his human partners and enjoy being ordinary, although very well trained dogs in their spare time.