Dog of the Day
Ken and Kabir
by Carie Broecker
Imagine going to work at 3:30 p.m. every day to drive around Salinas for 10 hours, responding to the most violent situations in the city night after night. If dispatch gets a hot call about a perpetrator with a gun or knife, you are on your way there.
That is Officer Ken Ellsworth and his K-9 partner, Kabir’s, duty—getting in the middle of the most menacing situations and apprehending the bad guy. Of course, Officer Ellsworth feels safer with Kabir by his side than he would without him, but danger is often right around the corner for these two crime fighters.
Ellsworth has been a police officer for 18 years, with 15 of those years spent patrolling the streets of Salinas—a city that has has an above-average rate of violent crimes compared to the rest of the state. Kabir is his second K-9 partner. His first partner, Brutus, served on the force for eight years, and then retired and subsequently passed away peacefully of old age as a member of the Ellsworth family.
After Brutus’ passing, Ellsworth was ready to take on a new K-9 partner. Kabir is now five and a half years old and has been working with Ellsworth for over three years. Kabir is a fearless, well-trained 80-pound German Shepherd from the Czech Republic. He can intimidate the surliest criminals with his mere presence. The word “Kabir” means “The Great” in Arabic, and this Kabir certainly lives up to that title.
Becoming a K-9 team takes hard work, training, dedication, an off-duty time commitment, and a substantial out-of-pocket expense from the police officer (close to $10,000 to purchase the dog). Potential candidates are screened and tested. After acceptance into the program, the team trains together for two intense months and must continue their training with two six-hour sessions each month thereafter.
Many years ago, Officer Ellsworth volunteered to play the “bad guy” during training sessions for the City of Marina K-9 team. After a few years of helping to train, he decided he would like to partner with a dog himself. Being an animal lover, it was a natural fit for him.
He loves the intelligence of dogs and finds it incredible what they can be trained to do. While most of us are happy to have a dog who can sit, lie down, stay, and come, police dogs go far beyond basic commands, and they never stop learning. Police dogs like Kabir need to have excellent obedience agility training, as well as high energy and endurance.
Officer Ellsworth trusts Kabir with his life. Kabir provides an extra set of eyes on the scene, and his sense of hearing and smell are invaluable, as are his strength and loyalty.
Recently Ellsworth and Kabir were called to an in-progress residential burglary. The suspect reportedly ran out of the house with something in his hand, which was assumed to be a gun. He was darting between houses. Kabir and Ellsworth arrived at the scene, and the suspect was running down the street. Kabir was released to apprehend him. Just as Kabir caught up to the perpetrator, the man turned, gun in hand, with the intent of shooting at Ellsworth. Before he could squeeze the trigger, Kabir took hold of his arm, and the gun went flying. Had Kabir not been on the scene, a police officer could have been shot and most likely the suspect would have taken fire as well. Kabir saved two lives that night.
When Kabir is working, he is serious and focused, but when he is not working, he is a member of the Ellsworth family. He is gentle with Officer Ellsworth’s 18-month-old daughter, Alyssa, and enjoys his time off just being a dog.
Kabir and Ellsworth also spend time visiting elementary schools and high schools and even police academies, talking about K-9 teams and the work they do. Kabir’s presence often intimidates school children at first, but when Ellsworth explains that it is okay to pet Kabir, they enjoy getting up close and personal with him.
I have the utmost respect for Kabir and Officer Ellsworth and the work they and other K-9 teams across the country do. Thank you, Officer Ellsworth and Kabir, for serving and protecting our community!
If you would like to make a donation to the Salinas K-9 Unit, contact Commander Sheldon Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.