Cocoa police dogs, handlers compete on national TV


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Cocoa police officer Brian Delos Santos and K9 Kyra were on the set of "America's Top Dog."

Courtesy of Cocoa Police Department

Two of the Cocoa Police Department’s top dogs and their handlers had an opportunity to show off their skills recently on national television. 

Officer Dan Rhoades, with K9 Bear and Officer Brian Delos Santos, with K9 Kyra, recently participated on the “America’s Top Dog” show on the A&E Network, which features K9s and their handlers from around the country.

Rhoades and Bear, a 6-year-old German Shepherd, appeared on A&E on Jan. 15, and the duo was able to claim victory after the episode’s competition.

“It was an amazing experience to participate in this,” Rhoades said in a release from the department. “Bear did an amazing job and I am so proud of him. We are honored to have been selected. I’m happy to be able to shine a light on the important role of police K9s in law enforcement; not just for officer protection, but for public safety.” 

Delos Santos and Kyra, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, competed on a later episode of the series. 

In addition, Officer Robin Vera and K9 Kable were cast as alternates, and though they will not be appearing during the show’s first season, they are expected to be on an episode if there is a second season.

The department was first contacted about personnel appearing on the show in March 2019. After interviews, reviews, video calls and background checks, the tandems were selected out of a pool of more than 400 candidates by mid-summer.

Bear joined the department in 2014 and is trained to help find missing persons, track suspects who are fleeing and to find illegal drugs and evidence in criminal cases, the police department reports. 

Kyra, who was born in Hungary and donated to the department in 2018 by the Grace Roberti Foundation, can serve in the patrol and SWAT units and is trained in drug detection. She also is the department’s first female police dog.

The CPD adds that all costs associated with the department personnel’s participation in “America’s Top Dog,” filmed in California, were paid for by Big Fish Entertainment, which produces the show.