A 16-month-old German shepherd is Hillsboro's newest officer, thanks to the Hillsboro Elks.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Rocket, a German shepherd puppy, is the newest K-9 with the Hillsboro Police Department. The dog will undergo months of training before hitting the streets next year.The Hillsboro Police Department welcomed a new officer to the force this week, with a new addition to the city's K-9 unit.

"Rocket" made his first official appearance as a police officer at the Hillsboro Elks Lodge Car Show on Saturday, July 21.

Rocket, a 16-month-old German shepherd, came to the department in early July from The Netherlands, thanks to a donation by the Hillsboro Elks. The Elks have committed to supporting the Hillsboro Police Department's K-9 program. Last year, the group donated $10,000 toward the purchase of a new dog.

"I always wanted to get in and help the city K9 program because I believe in it," Troy Ceballos, a past Exalted Ruler with the Elks, told Pamplin Media Group last year.

Rocket replaces Billy, a Hillsboro police dog who died in a car crash last December.

Police dogs cost thousands of dollars, and the Elks have said they'll help raise funds for the department whenever new dogs or equipment are needed.

"We'll continue to support them as much as they need," Ceballos said. "If they need something, just let us know."

Rocket's handler, Officer Scott Brennan, has been with the department for 12 years. He has trained two other police dogs through the department and said he can't wait to begin training with Rocket.

"The Canine Unit is my passion," Brennan said. "I love working with dogs."

Brennan's previously police dog, Rikko, retired in 2015 and now lives at home with Brennan. He said Rocket is fitting into the family nicely.

"He's my buddy," Brennan said. "I could tell from Day One before I was even picked to be his handler that I wanted to be his buddy, too."

Rocket will undergo months of training before he's ready for active duty. Starting in October, Rocket will begin a 10-week-long training course to detect human odor. When trained, the dog will be used to track suspects and recover evidence.

The city's K-9 unit also welcomed a new set of body armor for police dog Dozer this week. The department announced earlier this year the dog would be receiving special body armor from a Massachusetts nonprofit. Dozer is the third Hillsboro police dog to receive the armor.

The stab and bullet protective vest came thanks to a donation from Bested Interest in K9s, based in New England.

The vest bears the inscription "In memory of Chicken, Miss Kitty and K9 Billy."

Dozer joined the department last June and was also purchased with funds from the Elks club.

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