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Santa Barbara Sheriff’s K-9 Gango Retires From Duty

9-year-old German shepherd and his handler, Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes, have worked together for more than seven years

Sheriff’s K-9 Gango is retiring to spend more time with his family: Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes, Stefanie Hayes and their daughter Madison.
Sheriff’s K-9 Gango is retiring to spend more time with his family: Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes, Stefanie Hayes and their daughter Madison.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

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Most Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies ride in a patrol car alone, but it’s an experience K-9 handler Patrick Hayes will have to get used to.

The senior deputy’s longtime partner, Gango, a 9-year-old German Shepherd, is retiring after more than seven years with the department.

Hayes and Gango have trained, worked and lived together, including time at the Inglis Police Dog Academy in Oxnard, where they formed their tight bond.

Gango Vom Salztalblick was born in Hesse, Germany, in 2007 to a family of dogs that had advanced tracking degrees, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

He was purchased by the Sheriff’s Department and got to work in 2009.

Like other K-9s, he learned to find things, track across grass and hard surfaces, apprehend suspects, and detect explosive devices.

Now, at the dog equivalent of about 70 years old, Gango is starting to show his age, Hayes said.

“He’s trained to jump a 6-foot fence. Would you expect a senior citizen to jump a 6-foot fence?”

Hayes said he has always been a dog lover, and his years with Gango have been the best part of his career so far.

Gango has worked as a K-9 for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department for more than seven years. Click to view larger
Gango has worked as a K-9 for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department for more than seven years.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

The 100-pound German shepherd has always been toy-driven, and while he was a working dog, they represented his paychecks, Hayes said.

“So he does his job and uses his nose, and I reward him with a toy.”  

In retirement, Gango can look forward to more time at home with the Hayes family, checking out the chickens and mischievously dragging logs from the woodpile across the yard.

Since Gango is county property, Hayes had the option to purchase him – for $1.

“We’re family now,” Hayes said.

If Gango was taken somewhere else, “it would break my heart.”

Patrick's wife, Stefanie, joked that she was the new member of the family when the couple married.

“He’s been with Gango longer than I’ve known him,” she said.

Gango is very gentle with their 11-month-old daughter, Madison.

When Madison was one week old and crying, Gango ran into her room, grabbed a stuffed animal of the shelf, and dropped it in front of her in the living room, Stefanie said.

During his law enforcement career, Gango has helped track down suspects, and found lost children and people suffering from dementia, Hoover said.

Gango and Hayes worked for a lot of dignitary visits besides regular Sheriff’s Department business, and would check motorcades, hotel rooms, planes and more.

The K-9 and handler have met the Dalai Lama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Clintons, former first lady Nancy Reagan and former first lady Laura Bush, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

“A highlight of Gango’s career was when he helped locate a deaf teenager who had not come home from a bike ride in her neighborhood,” Hoover said.

“Gango was able to track her scent from a bicycle helmet and shoes. He located her in the dark, alone and frightened. In another notable case, he sniffed out a handgun that was fired in the commission of a crime in a small compartment hidden underneath a vehicle.”

The sheriff’s office is purchasing another K-9 to join the department, Hoover said. There are currently two patrol K-9s and one narcotics K-9 unit. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Gango and Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes have worked together for more than seven years at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Click to view larger
Gango and Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes have worked together for more than seven years at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
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