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Retiring El Cajon police dog to be honored for seven years of service

After responding to more than 1,000 calls for service and surviving a recent stabbing, an El Cajon police dog will be retiring later this month.

Jester, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois, was stabbed in the throat in June as he took down a man police said had used a knife to slash several car tires and charged at an officer before running onto a nearby high school campus.

After just three weeks, Jester was rehabilitated and returned to full duty, the El Cajon Police Department said in a news release. Now, he’s set to retire later this month after seven years of service.

Jester will be joined by his handlers, Officer Randall Gray and Sgt. Mike Murphy, to be honored at a City Council meeting 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Council Chambers in El Cajon.

El Cajon police dog Jester, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois, is recovering after a suspect stabbed him June 1, 2022.

(Courtesy El Cajon Police Department via Facebook)

“This is just one example of the many times Jester has kept the officers and citizens of El Cajon safe by putting his life on the line,” police said regarding Jester’s stabbing.

Since the 1950s, police dogs like Jester have been working in the El Cajon Police Department’s K-9 unit — the oldest K-9 unit in the county — keeping officers and the public safe by searching for suspects and conducting narcotics searches, the department said.

Jester was 2 years old when he was procured by the El Cajon Police Department in 2015 thanks to work efforts from an El Cajon Animal Shelter booster group and a $15,000 grant through the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Ben Roethlisberger, the future Hall of Fame quarterback, started the foundation in 2006 to support police and fire departments nationwide with a particular emphasis on support for service dogs.

El Cajon police dog Jester and his handler Officer Randall Gray, left.

El Cajon police dog Jester and his handler Officer Randall Gray, left.

After graduating from the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training’s K-9 Academy, Jester began his service to the department.

In the seven years since, Jester has responded to more than 1,000 radio calls, conducted 465 building searches, 121 high-risk stops, 16 search warrants, and 45 narcotics searches, and answered 45 outside agency assists. As a result, Jester has assisted with 197 arrests.

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