L.A. City Council refuses police dog donation over training firm’s name, shared with Hitler’s bunker

A policeman in a protective suit trains a police dog.
Los Angeles Police Department police dog Dutch shows off his agility during a demonstration in May 2023.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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The Los Angeles City Council has declined a donation for two police dogs after one city leader raised concerns that the canines were trained by a company that shares its name with a Nazi military hideout used by Adolf Hitler.

City Councilman Bob Blumenfield said he didn’t have an issue with the dogs, which were paid for with a nearly $27,000 donation by the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a nonprofit independent group that has long bankrolled equipment for the LAPD and offered other support the department. Blumenfield said his main concern was that the Riverside County company that supplied the animals, Adlerhorst International, shares “the name of the Nazi bunker used by Adolf Hitler during World War II.’’

“This company is a company that is glorifying Hitler’s bunker, and it’s a company that is dealing with German shepherds, of which there’s all that history with the Holocaust,’’ Blumenfield said. “I don’t know that’s the intent of this company, but in reality it’s a creepy name that shouldn’t really be associated with a company like this. They’ve had plenty of time to deal with it, and I can’t support doing business with a company that’s glorifying Hitler’s bunker.”


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Nestled in the Bavarian Alps, Adlerhorst, which means “Eagle’s Nest’’ in German, was a bunker complex built to hide Hitler during World War II. The location also served as the Nazi leader’s command post in December 1944 and January 1945.

Adlerhorst’s president, Michael Reaver, said he didn’t understand the council’s decision and had no intention of changing the company’s name.

“We have no affiliation with any Nazi anything, we’re just like everyone else, we look back at the Nazis and we consider that to be a horrible period of mankind,” Reaver said in a phone interview Tuesday.

After searching online, Reaver said, he found that there are “about a thousand” cafes, sandwich shops and streets bearing the Adlerhorst name in Germany today.

“In Germany, it’s not a name that is associated with the Nazi Party whatsoever,” he said.

Blumenfield, who represents the west San Fernando Valley, said he could find no other meaning beyond the Hitler reference. After Blumenfield voiced his misgivings at the council meeting Tuesday, the K-9 donation issue was sent back to the public safety committee for further discussion.

Activists and community members have raised questions about Adlerhorst in recent months at meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners, citing both the problematic name and the violent history of police dogs being used against Americans of color.


Jason Reedy, an organizer with the activist group People’s City Council and a regular at the public meetings, said “it goes beyond the name — the name is deplorable enough, but it goes back to the history of the ways that dogs have been used,” such as police unleashing dogs on civil rights protesters and against U.S. prisoners in Iraq.

Reedy said he hopes the controversy prompts a “deeper dive” into donations made by the Police Foundation.

Some have pointed to a 2021 Vice story about Adlerhorst that reported Reaver, a pioneering police K-9 trainer, had been sued dozens of times related to alleged injuries caused by the dogs that come from his facility, one of the nation’s largest.

Reaver called the article “biased” when asked about it this week.

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When reached Tuesday, the commission would not comment on criticism of Adlerhorst, but a spokesperson for the panel said it would help the public safety committee “to the best of our ability.”

“We’ll assist in whatever way we can with the process,” said the spokesperson, Sarah Bell.


According to a series of purchase orders released on the city’s online records portal, the company has sold at least 14 dogs to the LAPD since October 2021. The Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reaver said the company name comes from a German kennel where his father bought a dog, Cora, in the 1960s. His father, a former electrician and Air Force veteran who was once stationed in Germany, started breeding sporting dogs and then began working with law enforcement. The elder Reaver launched the business in 1976, and his son said they buy most of their dogs from breeders in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

“He had zero idea about any correlation between any German names and any Nazi party,” Reaver said of his father. “No History Channel, no Wikipedia information back then, it just wasn’t at your fingertips that it was named after a compound that Nazis made or somebody had made and Hitler used it once.”

Adlerhorst, Reaver added, is “the name of a bloodline. In Germany, breeders of German shepherds historically would have a kennel name, a bloodline name, so if you buy a dog named Luke the dog’s full name would be ‘Luke from Adlerhorst.’”

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“If Adlerhorst was considered with something associated with the Nazi Party, that name would not exist in modern-day Germany at all,” he said.

Adlerhorst has worked with hundreds of police forces nationwide. Reaver said the kennel was responsible for Cairo, the 70-pound Belgian Malinois that accompanied the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.


Reaver questioned why his company’s German name was singled out for backlash.

“No one’s looking to shut down the Porsche. Hugo Boss, he’s the one who made the uniforms for the SS, the real Hugo Boss. Volkswagen and all that, they all contributed to the war efforts of the Nazis,” he said.

Times staff writer David Zahniser and City News Service contributed to this report.