Second annual Space Coast K-9 Competition set to educate, excite


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Cocoa Police Officers Chris Hattaway, left, and Robin Viera demonstrate a K9's bite with Viera's K9 partner Kable.

Viera Voice Photo

Last year’s inaugural Space Coast K-9 Competition, held at Cocoa High School in October, thrilled an enthusiastic crowd as police dogs and their handlers based both locally and from other parts of the state competed for both pride and prizes.

As great as that event was, the second annual version of the competition figures to be even better. It will be held Oct. 12.

“It’ll grow this year and it’ll be a big fun time,” said Cocoa Police Department officer Chris Hattaway, who organizes the event along with fellow CPD officer Dan Rhodes.

Last year’s event, which featured competitions that saw dogs navigate an obstacle course and participate in a hard dog/fast dog competition that measured both the dogs’ speed and bite, featured 26 officer and dog tandems.

This year’s event, Hattaway said, will feature between 35 and 40 teams. Some of those teams will be based locally though others, as was the case last year, will come from places outside Brevard County. Hattaway expects an increase in teams from the southern portion of the state.

Those competitions will return, though Hattaway added that the obstacle course competition this year will finish with dogs having to perform an “apprehension bite.”

Hattaway noted that he enjoyed getting the public out to the event and being able to view the coordination between the dogs, which usually are either German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois and their handlers.

"I really care about educating the public,” Hattaway said. “I love the fact that the public can actually come see the handlers work with their partners, how intimate that relationship is."

He also said that the competition is genuinely helpful for the officers and dogs as well.

“Each one of those handler teams left with knowing something new about their dog,” Hattaway said.

Proceeds from last year’s event went toward Cocoa Community First, a nonprofit which helps to fund both youth and community outreach programs put together by the CPD, organizers said. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds taken in from the event also were donated to other programs at Cocoa High School.