Like Inmates, Utah County Jail K-9 Was Once A Little Wayward
SPANISH FORK, Utah — Inmates looking to turn their lives around might find an unexpected source of inspiration at the Utah County Jail.
One of the deputies there knows what it’s like to be in the doghouse.
Before Utah County Sheriff’s K-9 Reikko became one of only two dogs statewide currently believed to patrol a jail, he too was a little wayward.
“He was kind of a mess when he was dropped off,” Reikko’s handler, Deputy Rick Shumway, said. “He was very skittish, he was very afraid of people.”
Reikko’s journey began more than two years ago when he was dropped off at an animal shelter at the age of 7 months.
Soon, though, he fell into the hands of the all-volunteer rescue agency, Rescue Rovers, which was able to place him with a foster family.
Wesley Fors and his wife, Sharon Chandler, brought Reikko into their home and attempted to give the dog some much-needed structure.
The couple admitted they didn’t realize how much work that was going to be, and from the start they didn’t know what he was going to do next.
“He was muzzled, tried to bite me when I got him out of the truck,” Chandler recalled. “He tried to bite Wes five or six times before we got him out the back door so he could go to the bathroom.”
Reikko’s behavior started to change, however, due to the couple’s determination and training.
“We had very strict crate schedule with him,” Chandler said. “After the first week, we were able to take the muzzle off. He was super smart. They’re extremely intelligent dogs, and training went really well.
The couple believes the dog’s troubles started with a lack of structure.
“I think a relatively young family in Utah County had him,” Fors said. “(They) just didn’t really interact with him too much or lost interest in him or something, and he became too much dog for them.”
Two years later, Fors and Chandler said they believed Reikko is finally living his “best life.”
Shumway agreed, as he helped Reikko demonstrate his proficiency in uncovering illegal drugs in the jail.
“This is that high-activity drive that we love seeing — not to mention that desire for physical contact,” Shumway said.
Shumway said he believed Reikko could be an example to the inmates of the jail.
“You can turn things around, you can find your place and be very successful,” Shumway said. “It’s going to take work, it’s going to take a lot of work, but if you’re willing to do the work, you can find your place — find something you can do to be productive and happy.”
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