Kimura is a tough dog, and now it’s official: he is the toughest dog.
Stabbed in the neck in April 2020 while trying to subdue an armed suspect, the 6-year-old Dutch shepherd has rebounded from that life-threatening injury — and he proved it at the Metropolitan Police Department’s 31st annual K-9 Trials on Sunday.
The K-9 Trials, which brought out as estimated 4,600 people to the equestrian arena at South Point, saw law enforcement teams from Las Vegas and around the country competing in agility and pursuit-related events events on Sunday.
The top prizes were Top Agency, Top Dog and Tough Dog, which was won by Kimura. That honor, which goes to the dog regarded as the toughest, strongest and most aggressive in the competition, is awarded by the so-called “decoys,” or the officers who pretend to be criminals and wear the teeth-resistant “bite suits” that enable them to get bitten safely all day long.
Those officers determine which dog bites the hardest, fights the hardest and just goes the hardest, and they chose Kimura.
“So we were out for about six weeks and then he came back and didn’t miss anything. He had a hole in his neck that you could put your fist in,” said officer Nick Bachman, Kimura’s handler and a 24-year Metro veteran who has been with the K-9 unit for five years.
“So for him to be able to go through that and come back and still be as tough as he was … it’s pretty good,” Bachman said.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation’s executive director, Tom Kovach, said the event — which the foundation helps organize — featured about 80 teams from law enforcement and military across the country, but mainly from Nevada, Utah and California. He said the event gives people a chance to see what police dogs and their handlers do, and the skills that are used.
Some of the search-related events took place Saturday, but that part of the competition wasn’t open to the public, while patrol-related events were free for the public to watch on Sunday. The competitive categories included narcotics, bombs, area search, building search, obedience, agility and handler protection.
“It’s an opportunity for K-9s and their handlers to compete against each other,” Kovach said. “We have handler teams coming from around the country and it’s also an opportunity today, being the public day of the trials, for the public to have a better understanding of the expertise and skill that our handlers and the dogs have.”
‘Pretty stinkin’ ecstatic’
The Top Dog award, which goes to the dog who got the highest overall score in each of the various categories, went to Timber, a 4-year-old German shepherd, and his handler, officer David Allen, of the West Valley City Police Department in Utah. West Valley City is a suburb of Salt Lake City.
“I’m pretty stinkin’ ecstatic and I don’t know if I have the words to express it,” Allen said after the event.
Allen, who said Timber loves belly rubs at home and works as a dog that finds narcotics and people when he’s working, was going to be rewarded with a big steak from one of the restaurants at South Point.
“When we got down here on Friday night, I was practicing and he just seemed really dialed in to what I needed him to do,” Allen said. “He was listening to me really well. It’s all the dog. He stole the show.”
The Top Agency award, which went to the law enforcement agency whose patrol dogs racked up the highest overall score in all the categories, went to Metro.
Sunday’s events featured the dogs and their handlers going through patrol-related exercises. For instance, an officer wearing a so-called bite suit would fire off a shot from a fake gun, and the dog would go running toward that shooter. But the challenge would be for the handler to call the dog back. The adrenaline-fueled animal would then have to obey its handler, stop running and abandon its run toward the shooter, all to prove how obedient it could be. Some dogs listened to their handler. Some attacked the shooter.
Dogs also had to fight through a would-be criminal standing in the back of a pickup truck and holding a wooden board as an obstruction. The dogs would also have to neutralize a purse snatcher.
Brother v.s. brother
There was also a brotherly rivalry. Eric Hutchason, 38, a Metro K-9 sergeant, had his 5-year-old Dutch shepherd in the competition, while his younger sibling David Hutchason, 33, of the Fresno Police Department in California, had his 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, Jack, competing as well.
The brothers said they were competing for bragging rights and enjoying some smack talk, and they clearly love working their animals. And being a K-9 officer gives them the chance to respond to active events, which they view as rewarding.
“We want the dog to be as safe as possible,” David Hutchason said of all the training the dogs undergo. “Yes, they are a tool, but they’re also our best friends and we want to use them responsibly and keep them safe.”
“This is fun. Being with him is great. It’s a great opportunity to be with my brother, and doing this, and good competition,” Eric Hutchason said. “K-9 trials, it’s a competition, but it’s cool to meet with other agencies and see how they train and what they expect from their dog versus what we expect from our dog.”