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Lodi police dog featured on TV show

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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 10:00 pm

When Lodi police Officer Dee Dee Dutra saw her police dog jump off a bridge to chase a suspect earlier this year, little did the department's 12-year veteran know she'd be featured on an international TV show a year later.

Dutra's dog, Sam, a 5-year-old female German shepherd, barreled over the side of a bridge and into the Mokelumne River 60 feet below in pursuit of a man who led officers on a short chase March 1.

Sam successfully nabbed the suspect after hitting the water and swimming a short distance. The suspect gave up and surrendered to officers on the bank. Though a bit muddy and soaked to the skin, Sam was uninjured.

Although Lodi police dog Sam is normally quite friendly, she does have a side that most bad guys don't care to go up against. (Jerry R. Tyson/News-Sentinel)

On Saturday, a crew from "Miracle Pets," a program that airs weekly on PAX-TV, visited Lodi to shoot tape for an upcoming episode that will feature Dutra and Sam.

"They asked me questions about the event, and brought the lights and everything," Dutra said "I was nervous."

Dutra, who has been working with Sam for about three years, said she didn't believe the show wanted to do a story about her and her dog after the show's staff saw the News-Sentinel story on the Internet.

"Our show focuses on special human-animal connection and it was obvious that Dee Dee and Sam were very close," said producer Jeff Topham, who is based in Vancouver, Canada. "And the action of the story is incredible, so it was perfect for our show."

Saturday's shoot went well, he said.

"The whole police department was great. They were so helpful and generous with their time, so a sincere thanks to them," Topham said.

Dutra never gave Sam the command to jump that March day.

"Before I could say 'No,' she was gone. I thought for sure she was dead. It was pretty scary," she said.

Dutra, the department's first female canine handler, is also a member of the Honor Guard. She was hired in June 1989 and began dog handling in 1993.

Before coming to Lodi, she worked as a deputy for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

The air date for the episode on Dutra is expected sometime in the new year, Topham said.

It will include a 10-minute segment including interviews with Dutra and Officer Steve Carillo, and a re-enactment with the two, Cpl. Chris Jacobsen and, of course, Sam.

"Miracle Pets," hosted by actor Alan Thicke ("Growing Pains") profiles pets and their owners with true stories about the connections between them. They may involve a heroic pet rescue, a wildlife adventure and even remarkable encounters on farms, at zoos, in aquariums or perhaps a park.

It airs on Monday nights on Channel 29 in the Lodi area.

Comments about this story? Send mail to the News-Sentinel newsroom.


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