SAN DIEGO — FOX 5 got an inside look Monday at how San Diego Police Department’s canines are trained to serve and protect.

This comes after a member of the SDPD K-9 Unit, a 4.5-year-old Belgian Malinois named Sir, was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 2.

The SDPD K-9 Unit was first established in 1984 and now 33 dogs are actively serving the department, police said.

Special dogs purchased by the San Diego Police Foundation are initially put through a 16-week academy. Every K-9 then trains at least 20 hours a month at a facility located near the Webster neighborhood.

Carson, a seven-year-old German Shepherd K-9 officer from Slovakia, has been serving for five years and has been involved in some high profile cases and has even survived some potentially lethal wounds.

“We were searching a suspect in the San Diego River and that suspect did stab Carson in the head four times with a screwdriver,” Carson’s handler, SDPD Officer Jonathan Wiese told FOX 5. “Carson was able to recover and then we were able to apprehend him just a short time later.”

The death of Sir earlier this month marked the second time in SDPD history that a K-9 officer was killed in the line of duty. 

The first SDPD K-9 officer to be killed in the line of duty was named Bando, who died in 1994. There is a statue of Bando at the K-9 training facility, as well as a memorial to honor every dog who has served with the department.

Carson’s partner, Officer Jonathan Wiese, is a hero in his own right

Officer Wiese was able to rescue two young girls who were in a car that drove off a cliff in 2020 due in part to his K-9 equipment.

“We were equipped with a 100-foot dog leash, so that day, when the car went off of Sunset Cliffs, I was either smart enough or crazy enough to use the dog leash to repel down the cliff,” Wiese said. “We were able to rescue the girls and the father that day.”

The San Diego City Council proclaimed Aug. 6 as Jonathan Wiese Day in 2020, due to his heroics that day.

The San Diego Police Foundation helps fund the SDPD K-9 program, helping to equip every unit so that they can continue to protect and serve the community safely.