Roselyn Ngin, an employee at Starbucks in Westfield Southcenter mall, gives Apollo a puppuccino whipped cream treat. HEIDI SANDERS/Tukwila Reporter

Rescued pit bull turned narcotics K-9 captures community’s heart

The Tukwila Police Department’s new narcotics K-9, Apollo, has garnered national and international attention.

Apollo, a pit bull, was abandoned as a puppy and sent to a shelter, where it was determined he was not adoptable because he had too much energy. Instead of euthanizing the dog, the shelter contacted a Washington state narcotics K-9 trainer to see if Apollo was a candidate for detection work. The trainer thought Apollo would make a good narcotics K-9, so she took him to the Department of Corrections kennels.

“Unfortunately, Apollo had to wait another 12 months as one dog after another was selected over him by other officers who were going through narcotics school and wouldn’t give him a chance,” the Tukwila Police Department said in a post on its Facebook page. “No one would give him a chance simply because he was a pit bull who often have bad reputations based on misconceptions and lack of training.”

Last summer, a narcotics officer from Tukwila was looking for a K-9 partner and was introduced to Apollo.

“(The narcotics K-9 trainer) said, ‘I have all of these dogs, but this is the one you guys want. He’ll finish top in his class. He’s just an amazing worker,’ ” Tukwila Police spokesman Victor Masters said.

Tukwila Police Chief Mike Villa agreed to give Apollo a chance.

“The chief said, ‘We only hire the best officers. Why wouldn’t we hire the best dog? I don’t care what breed the dog is. We’re not going to judge. This is the dog we want,’ ” Masters said. “So, we ended up going with (Apollo), and he did finish first in his class.”

Apollo is the department’s first narcotics K-9. He joins Ace, a patrol K-9 German Shepherd.

The Tukwila Police Department introduced Apollo through a post on its Facebook page on May 22 and received an outpouring of support.

The post has received more than 35,000 reactions, has been shared more than 23,000 times and has almost 4,000 comments.

Messages of appreciation for giving Apollo a chance came from people throughout the U.S. and around the world, including as far away as Japan and Germany, Masters said.

“Just nonstop messages of support,” Masters said. “Just lots of support from everybody, not just the local community.”

Apollo made his first public appearance at a Coffee with a Cop event at Westfield Southcenter mall on May 24, where he greeted community members, played with children and even got a puppuccino whipped cream treat from employees at Starbucks.

Apollo allows the officers to connect with the public and has become a mascot for the department, Masters said.

“A lot of times police officers get a similar stereotype,” Masters said. “They are judged by the uniform not the personality. … (Apollo’s) got that same stigma. He is being judge based on who he is. Give him a chance. Give us a chance.”

Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg said he was glad the police department gave Apollo chance.

“Having Apollo on the team really represents the heart of the city of Tukwila Police Department,” Ekberg said. “They are outgoing. They found a dog that had that same type of outgoing personality. They took a risk on him. No one else would probably take a risk on a pit bull, but they did. Now he is part of the family and is being recognized as part of the family.”

Apollo, the Tukwila Police Department’s narcotics K-9, found a friend in 3-year-old Christopher To, of Kent, during a Coffee with a Cop event at Westfield Southcenter mall on May 24. HEIDI SANDERS/Tukwila Reporter

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