FDLE returns with “Dog Days of Summer” campaign for 2023

Kaplan and Layla

Press release from Florida Department of Law Enforcement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is renewing its “Dog Days of Summer” social media campaign and will run the promotion through Aug. 11 on the agency’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

The agency’s Dog Days of Summer campaign celebrates the K-9 members of the agency and their handlers. FDLE has K-9 units across the state, primarily working in the electronic and explosives detection areas.

The expression “Dog Days of Summer” dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans and references the stars, particularly Sirius, also called Alpha Canis Majoris or the Dog Star. Ancient Romans believed Sirius contributed to the sun’s heat and thus referred to this extremely hot period as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

During the campaign, FDLE will feature its K-9 teams of dogs and handlers to social media followers. Since last year, FDLE has two new additions to its K-9 corps:

  • K-9 Joze, a German Shorthaired Pointer, was born in the Netherlands and just turned two years old this week. K-9 Joze trained in electronic storage detection (ESD) at Southern Coast K9 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and certified on June 16, 2023. Joze is assigned to Special Agent Vannessa Carmona and works out of the Pensacola Regional Operations Center. Joze assisted with her first search warrant on June 22, 2023. In her spare time, Joze loves chasing balls and swimming.
  • K-9 Hunter, a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix, was born in Hungary. Assigned to Capitol Police Officer Getavius “Taye” Zachary, Hunter searches the exterior and interior areas of state offices that are assigned to Capitol Police. The K-9 team supports surrounding law enforcement agencies in need of explosive detection K-9 support. Hunter has assisted the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, FAMU Police Department, Tallahassee Police Department, and FDLE’s Protective Operation Section.  Hunter enjoys playing tug of war and fetches and chases jolly balls.

The K-9 corps includes the following:

  • Cache is a 19-month-old black English Labrador. Cache is assigned to Special Agent Justin Gilmer and works out of the Fort Myers Regional Operations Center. Cache was donated to FDLE by Operation Underground Railroad and trained at Jordan Detection K-9. He is trained in electronic detection. He likes socks and chasing tennis balls.
  • Layla is an American Labrador born in Utah. She was trained in electronic storage detection at Jordan Detection K-9s in Indiana.  Layla was donated to FDLE by Operation Underground Railroad. Layla is partnered with handler Special Agent Ritchie Kaplan. Layla works out of FDLE’s Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center. She routinely responds to search warrant calls and seeks and finds electronic items that contain media contraband and child sex abuse material. 
  • Rocket, a Black Labrador, joined FDLE in November 2021 after a career change from a service dog to an electronic detection K-9.  He was donated by Operation Underground Railroad and was trained by Jordan Detection K-9 in Indiana. Rocket is assigned to FDLE’s Tallahassee Regional Operations Center and assists with search warrants, victim interviews, and demonstrations. Rocket is assigned to Special Agent Aida Limongi and the Cyber Crimes Squad but is able to assist with searches for any squad or law enforcement partner.
  • Laya is a Golden Retriever born in Colombia. Laya is assigned to the Capitol Police in Tallahassee. Laya is imprinted on a variety of military-grade and homemade explosives. Laya is assigned to handler Officer Travis Tharp. They focus on detection of explosive materials, the recovery of firearms and ammunition, and the recovery of evidence related to post-blast incidents. Capitol Police’s K-9 units also assist with the Protective Operations Section of FDLE. Laya enjoys sunbathing, rolling in the grass, and a good game of fetch with her frisbee.
  • Babs is a Yellow Labrador Retriever. Babs is assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Miami office and regularly works with FDLE agents on officer-involved shooting investigations. Babs is assigned to ATF’s Zane Dodds, a 25-year veteran with the agency. Babs is one of only two ATF explosive detection canines in Florida. Babs is proficient in finding firearms, ammunition, spent casings, and explosives.
  • Gatsby is a Yellow Labrador Retriever. Gatsby is assigned to Officer William Boyer with the Capitol Police. Gatsby searches vehicles and mail trucks entering underneath the Capitol. He also searches exteriors and interiors in the state offices surrounding the Capitol. The K-9 team supports surrounding law enforcement agencies in need of an explosive detection K-9. Gatsby has assisted the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, FSU Police Department, and FAMU Police Department.
  • Baxter is an English Labrador Retriever. Baxter is assigned to Orlando Regional Operations Center Cybercrime Task Force Agent Georgie Torres. He is trained in electronic storage detection and has been in service for two years. In that time, Baxter has been deployed on more than 100 searches. Baxter was purchased by the Kissimmee Police Department.
Cassidy and Maple

And retiring this year is K-9 Maple. Maple began her career in July of 2019 in the Pensacola Region as FDLE’s first ESD canine. Since she started her career, she has been deployed on 109 scenes and taken part in 32 community demonstrations. She has put numerous suspects in state and federal prison and played crucial parts in many prosecutions, even while undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lymphoma in September of 2022. After six months of chemotherapy, she reached remission in February 2023 and has been going strong ever since, maintaining remission all while working hard. She is set to retire in early August of this year. Maple is assigned to Special Agent Supervisor Stephanie Cassidy, who will keep her at home in her retirement.

  • Have some quality stick chasing time in retirement time Ms. Maple. Thank You for your service.

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