Buhl police officer has a new K-9 partner

One-year-old Karma is already making an impact on her handler
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 12:57 PM MDT
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BUHL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The Buhl Police Department has a new K-9 fighting crime on the streets, and she is already making an impact on her partner.

Patrolman David Katsules has been with the Buhl Police Department for roughly three years, and when the K-9 handler position opened up he jumped at it, partially due to his love for animals.

“Our chief, who was the K-9 handler prior, couldn’t have the dog as the chief himself and wanted to pass that responsibility onto another patrol officer. I applied for that position and was lucky enough to get that position in the department,” said Katsules. “I don’t know many jobs where you get paid to kinda work with a dog.”

His first partner was Kaya, a 45-pound Belgian Malinois; but back in November, the seven-year-old had to retire due to arthritis in her back hips.

“She was having some spine issues as well,” said Katsules. “As a partner, she was absolutely amazing. When it came to narcotics work she was a highly driven dog. She was all about wanting to work.”

Outside of work, he said Kaya is an absolutely amazing dog and is extremely people-friendly. She just “absolutely loves” his family and has become part of it. Katsules jokingly said she is, “kicking her feet up and enjoying the retired life.” However, leaving for work in the morning was difficult at first for him and Kaya.

“It was a pretty difficult transition because you go from having someone in the car on a daily basis, and now you have to leave them at home and they can sense it,” Katsules said.

Now he has a new partner. One-year-old Karma is a 55-pound Belgian Malinois, and she is already making an impact. She is narcotics certified and is working on her patrol certification. She also understands German.

“Basically I don’t want her to get confused with what I’m saying in English versus using German commands. It helps them distinguish between the two,” Katsules said.

Karma was purchased from a retired PD officer out of South Dakota and received her training at Arbeiten K-9 Services. She replaced Kaya shortly after she retired. Katsukes said it was “definitely difficult” at first to deal with the transition from Kaya to Karma because it is just a different feeling.

“With a brand new dog, you have to start a bonding process. It can take as short as a day to two weeks to bond with a dog properly,” Katsules said.

Now it’s just great to have a new partner and not be alone in the car. Katsukes said when an officer like himself is working a 12-hour shift, sometimes the person is spending more time with the K-9 partner than at home.

However, the hardest part right now is getting Karma and Kaya to bond because they both live with Katsukes and his family.

“Unfortunately Karma and Kaya are not the best of friends. I’d say they are both Type A-alpha personalities so they both want to be in charge,” said Katules jokingly.

Katsules said he works to spend equal time with both dogs to let them know they are special to him, and he is optimistic both dogs will become friends, eventually.

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