CSUSM’s Beloved K-9 Retires from Duty

CSUSM's first K-9 Vince on campusVince, CSUSM's first K-9 officer, retires in November.

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Trained to detect specific odors associated with explosives, CSUSM's first K-9 Officer Vince will retire in November, ending his service about a year early due to health complications. The eight-year-old black Labrador is currently the only active Explosive Ordnance Detection (EOD) canine unit in North San Diego County.

CSUSM will celebrate Vince’s service to the campus and retire his badge at a special campus ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 12 beginning at 1:30 p.m. at The Dome. The campus is invited to attend the event and wish Vince a happy retirement. The celebration will include a ceremonial salute by University Police.

Read about Vince’s journey to campus in the NewsCenter article: Meet Vince

Vince’s stint in law enforcement started later in life than most dogs. Typically recruited around the ages of two or three, most police dogs will work for about seven years or up until the age of ten. Vince was already five when he was rescued from a shelter and placed in the EOD training program.

Having lived most of his early life in shelter kennels, Vince’s age has been a topic of mystery. His high energy, playful spirit and strong health had shelter veterinarians convinced he was three when adopted by San Francisco-based Police Sergeant David Dorn, who rescues and trains canine detection dogs. It wasn’t until he was recruited by the University Police Department at CSUSM that a San Marcos veterinarian noted his more accurate age – two years older than originally believed.

CSUSM Sergeant Ray Derouin and K-9 Officer VinceSergeant Ray Derouin with his K-9 partner of three years Vince.

During his three years of service at CSUSM, Vince has amassed an impressive record on campus and in the community. He has responded to reports of suspicious packages on campus and at MiraCosta College, led EOD monitoring at large events including commencement ceremonies, Chargers games and Comic-Con, and performed over 20 demonstrations for children at local schools. His daily protective sweeps of campus have helped CSUSM earn the title as the safest public university in California, now two years in a row.

“For the past three years Vince has enthusiastically and unselfishly provided an added layer of protection to the students, faculty and staff of CSUSM,” said Sergeant Ray Derouin, Vince’s canine handler. “He has asked for nothing but a tennis ball as a reward and approaches each shift as if it was his first. He has been an asset to our campus and a reliable and beloved ambassador of this University in our community.”

But life as a police canine is physically demanding. Twelve-hour-shifts, the constant climbing of stairs, jumping in and out of a police vehicle and frequent patrolling of campus can take a toll on a police dog’s body. About a year and a half ago, Vince’s veterinarian diagnosed him with hip dysplasia, a genetic disease that affects the hip joints and is a common health issue of Labradors.

“There is certainly something to be said about the compassion of our administration,” said Sgt. Derouin. “While we could push him to work these last few years, we want his senior years to be happy and healthy. He’s done so much for our campus and our community, and his welfare is important to us.”

Though his muzzle has greyed since first coming to CSUSM in the fall of 2010, his temperament and enthusiasm for his job has never wavered. When walking around campus, Vince will often stop to greet students and get his belly scratched.

Vince visits with students on campusVince enjoys a little love from students while on a campus walk.

“He loves the attention; community outreach is certainly one of his best qualities,” said Sgt. Derouin.

Vince has been adopted by CSUSM Officer Tony Maraschiello and his family.

“There will be a second Cal State San Marcos EOD canine,” said Sgt. Derouin, “but Vince will forever be our first.”

CSUSM will celebrate Vince’s service to the campus and retire his badge at a special campus ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 12 beginning at 1:30 p.m. at The Dome. The campus is invited to attend the event and wish Vince a happy retirement. The celebration will include a ceremonial salute by University Police.