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Sep 19

Who Let the (Police) Dogs Out?

Posted on September 19, 2019 at 11:01 AM by Michael Churchill

Corporal Garrett Duncan of the Rifle Police Department is letting the dogs out in a must-attend event for the entire family. Thanks to the efforts of Corporal Duncan, the Rifle Police Department was selected to host the 2019 Colorado Police Canine Challenge. This event will be part of the City of Rifle Western Adventure Weekend and is scheduled for September 21st from 10:00am until 2:00pm at the Garfield County Fairgrounds, 1001 Railroad Avenue. It will take place in the indoor arena so weather won’t be a factor. Admission is free (of course, donations are always welcome) and there will be a raffle with terrific prizes.

Police dogs provide a wide variety of services. They sniff out drugs and assist in apprehending suspects, but they also serve a less recognized function. According to Corporal Duncan, “dogs can ease people during police contacts. People tend to be comforted and more likely to talk when they have contact with a dog”. Duncan emphasizes that this aspect tends to be overlooked. To counter this, the Rifle Police Department brings their dogs to schools, other organizations and events to educate the public and help citizens familiarize themselves with the roles canines play in law enforcement.

The Rifle Police Department K9 program began in 2010. Most Rifle residents know the first police canine, Tulo. Tulo and his handler, Corporal Duncan, were a team until Tulo’s retirement this past January. The department currently has two new dogs, Jax and Makai. Jax is partnered with Officer Jared Bartunek and Makai with Corporal Duncan. Both teams will be participating in the challenge. 

The K9 Challenge will feature law enforcement K9 teams from all over the state. The teams compete in four categories: agility, obedience, apprehension and narcotics detection.  It is extremely entertaining to watch what these dogs can (and sometimes can’t or won’t) do. Not all dogs are trained to perform the tasks which comprise the competition, but many will attempt some of the challenges outside their comfort zone and skill set.  It is a great opportunity to see not only impressive skills, but personalities as well. After the demonstrations, citizens are invited to meet select handlers and their canines and get pictures. 

This year’s K9 challenge is raising money for the Colorado Police Canine Association. This organization is instrumental in providing funds for retired police dogs. Corporal Duncan explains that caring for a retired dog can become quite expensive. Things such as hip replacements, medications and even vitamins can be costly. These four-legged heroes deserve to live out their lives as happy and comfortable as possible. 

Mark your calendars now for this free family event. A fun day is guaranteed. You have will have a great time watching the dogs perform some amazing feats.  

Rifle Rapport is a periodic article featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact City of Rifle Public Information Officer Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or

K9 Challenge Flyer


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