Thousands attend car show to support Havoc K9 – 4-legged crime fighters, friends to military veterans

Havoc K9 volunteers that help breed, train and donate dogs for police service and military veterans at car show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — A car show held Saturday raised funds for a nonprofit organization that breeds, raises and trains K-9 officers for police departments and donates service dogs to veterans.

“Havoc at BRIO St. George Car Show” showcases more than 120 vintage and collectible cars Washington City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The “Havoc at BRIO St. George Car Show” took place at the Brio community, 23o W. Brio Clubhouse Drive, Washington City, and was organized by Darren Nuttall of Desert Sports Management.

Proceeds from this year’s car show support Havoc K9, a nonprofit program that breeds, trains and donates the furry crime fighters to police departments and law enforcement agencies throughout the state and across the U.S.

Brio provided the venue where more than 120 classic beauties were on display surrounded by numerous vendors, concessions, a beer garden, D.U.B.’s BBQ food and music by JC Hackett.

Cole West Marketing Manager Joe Layton, who facilitated the venue for Saturday’s show, said that more than 2,000 people showed up for the event, which turned out to be a success.

“We are looking forward to doing this again next year,” Layton said. “Anything to give back to the community, and this is a way for Cole West to give back – this right here.”

“We give our police the dogs they need,” he said, “and we’re going to do a first responders show in the fall because those guys give so much to the community. So, if we can help them even just a little bit, that’s what we’ll do.”

Washington City Firefighters attend “Havoc at BRIO St. George Car Show” held Saturday, Washington City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Nuttall said the variety of cars and trucks that entered was “phenomenal.” He was stopped several times during the show by individuals commenting on all of the different types of vehicles on display.

“It’s just amazing to see so many different cars and people getting together in the community for a common cause – to support Havoc K9,” Nuttall said.

Deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office also attended the event, bringing with them a very special guest, Vinny the K-9 accompanied by handler deputy Daniel Montgomery, for a reunion with the Havoc K9 crew.

Vinny was donated to the sheriff’s office by Havoc K9 a few years ago. He’s trained to hunt for drugs and fugitives and help with search and rescue operations.

“He is just a great dog and has been a valuable asset to the department ever since,” Washington County Sheriff’s K-9 program supervisor Sgt. Ed Keil said.

Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war 

It takes between one-to-two years of training to become a police dog, Dustin Draper, Havoc K9’s director of training, said, adding that there are multiple factors that go into training the animals to prepare them for service.

Havoc K9 training director Dustin Draper demonstrates training techniques during “BRIO St. George Car Show” held Saturday, Washington City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The first year is spent working with the dog’s natural instincts, using rewards to modify behaviors. The next year, dogs are taught methods to indicate to the handler when narcotics are present, how to stop a person from fleeing and many other aspects of the job. The dog lives with a volunteer for the first year and train at the facility.

During training sessions, the animals are exposed to loud noises and a high level of activity which mimics the work environment, similar to a foot chase or shots being fired, Dustin Draper said, training the dogs to stay focused and follow commands, even during chaos.

Dogs are taught to “bite with confidence,” which reduces the risk of damage or injury to the dog and the individual.

“The dog learns to perform full bites, instead of frontal bites,” Dustin Draper said.

The dogs are also confronted with resistance and even violence. The job is “very hard on them,” so their service life isn’t indefinite.

Havoc K9

Founded in 2011, Havoc K9 has donated 17 fully trained and certified working K-9s to local and federal law enforcement agencies, fire departments and search and rescue teams.

Havoc K9 has a volunteer board consisting of nine individuals and an additional 16 volunteers that help with raising, training and testing the animals.

A military veteran’s best friend

The organization is also launching a program to provide the same high-quality animals to military veterans as service dogs at no charge.

Soldier reunited with his daughter | Photo by Wavebreakmedia, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The animals that are not appropriate for police work are instead trained to become service dogs for those military veterans who are dealing with the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and other chronic conditions.

“These dogs want to work and do something, and they have the loyalty and intelligence to become a great service animal for these veterans,” Ricki Draper, Havoc K9’s executive director, said.

According to the Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 33 percent of all veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and/or depression. Less than 40 percent of all veterans ever seek treatment.

A furry, four-legged solution that is simple and inexpensive has changed many veterans’ lives for the better. The dogs come with more than enough loyalty, intelligence and specialized training.

Research shows that when veterans are paired with service dogs, they report lower levels of depression and anxiety, fewer hospitalizations and numerous other benefits.

Hosts and sponsors

Brio is an active adult community spanning over 190 acres located at the intersection of Buena Vista Boulevard and Main Street within a few minutes of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Green Springs golf course and a large trail system.

Cole West Home is an experienced home builder working in master-planned communities throughout Utah and teamed with BRIO to provide the venue for the event.

Desert Sports Management was founded on more than 20 years of experience in tournament management and special events promotions, bringing sporting events to the Southwest desert areas of Arizona, Nevada and Utah. 

Car Guys Care is a like-minded group of car enthusiasts who come together and help the communities of Southern Utah by supporting, participating in or hosting car shows and events.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • PlanetU April 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Good story and pictures, thanks.

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