Chief Ed Malone normally has a fairly serious job. As head of security for Chapman College in Orange, the standard eight-hour day can contain any number of crisis situations, from dorm burglaries to attacks on students.
But on Friday, the chief took a break to play with Ranger, the department’s new search-and-rescue dog.
“Here, give me a kiss,” Malone said, cuddling the 5-month-old German shepherd mix and mugging for a photographer. “Here, Ranger, lick-y lick-y. . . . I’ll bet you (County) Sheriff (Brad) Gates doesn’t have a picture like this.”
The black-and-white pooch is a new addition to the campus security detail. Purchased and fed through contributions from the department staff, the dog is currently in basic training, learning the standard commands necessary to fulfill his search-and-rescue role.
Eventually, Ranger will be able to locate people based on the scent of their clothing.
“The idea is that these dogs can search and find people,” Malone said. “With only two search-and-rescue dogs that I know of in Orange County, and since they say you’re on your own for 72 hours after an earthquake. . . , we thought it would be a good idea to augment our overall major disaster plan for search and rescue.”
Malone pointed out that nearly any day of the week there are professors and students who work late, and campus police are not always able to keep track of which buildings are occupied. In the event of a disaster, “Ranger would allow us to do an initial survey of the building a lot faster than if we had to do it manually,” he said.
As well as being of assistance in the case of earthquake and flood, Malone said Ranger can lend a nose to the local Police Department.
“We’d also like to be able to offer him to the community for lost children and elderly walkaways,” Malone added.
But so far, Ranger has yet to find anyone. The puppy has another six months before he starts serious hide-and-seek training. For now, he spends his time sleeping in Malone’s office and playing with toys donated by faculty members or security personnel. Ranger also enjoys romping around the grassy, landscaped Chapman campus, searching for dropped pieces of chewing gum to gnaw on.
“When he’s not training, he’s getting loved to death and spoiled rotten by the faculty, students and by us,” said Capt. Malinda Hall, one of the dog’s two handlers.
Hall, and her partner, Lt. Ron Hall (no relation), say that the dog has helped improve the security force’s image among students.
“When we first brought him on, it was the kind of thing, ‘Are you going to train him to kill students?’; ‘Will he sniff out dope?,’ ” Malone said. “Then, when we explained to them what we were going to do, they were like, ‘Can I bring by a sweater so he’ll know how to find me?’ ”
As Ranger walks with Ron Hall around the campus, a few of the students stop and pet him, rubbing his ears and pushing his nose away. Others students say they don’t think that much of the dog, though he is called “cute” and “fun.”
Junior Ingrid Edwards said she liked Ranger but disputed his role as the new campus pet. She argued that C.C., the Chapman cat, has been at the school much longer and “pretty much rules the campus.”