Sun City’s Neighborhood Watch program has enlisted canines and their owners to be extra eyes and ears to keep the retirement community safe.
Ellen Greenspan, who is on the Neighborhood Watch committee, had been lamenting that not many of the retirement community’s more than 12,000 residents were participating in watch programs. It was understandable, she said. They’d moved there to retire, not to get involved with groups.
“Then I saw a guy walking his dog and it hit me,” she said. “They’re always walking the same area, soaking up (impressions). They know who lives alone, who tends to take their trash can in immediately. They see newspapers piling up. … I thought, ‘Wow, this is a natural.’”
People like the idea of helping their neighbors, but without having to attend meetings, she said. Greenspan estimated that 2,500 Sun City residents own pets.
There were 87 dogs on the K-9 Corps patrol when View visited Jan. 16. The program has room for 125 . The canines are issued a red dog tag to verify their service to the community.
Bruce Petrie joined K-9 Corps after learning of it about Christmastime.
He walks his 10-year-old rescue, Paisley, a mixed-breed female, four times a day. If he sees a car he doesn’t recognize, he’ll take pictures of its license plates with his cellphone.
“I’m from Chicago, so I’m suspicious of everything,” Petrie said. “I’ve reported sprinkler leaks, nothing dangerous. There was a homeless guy drinking beer on the curb one night and we called security and they got the police, but nothing serious.”
Greenspan started K-9 Corps last fall after her involvement in the Neighborhood Watch committee showed her that Sun City had less than a dozen watch groups.
At first, there was a misconception about the needs of the K-9 Corps.
“Size doesn’t matter,” Greenspan said. “People keep calling me thinking they need a German shepherd or something. I have to explain that I have everything from Chihuahuas to Yorkies to Great Danes.”
Greenspan said she’s not looking for heroes or wannabe cops. The K-9 Corps is about alerting the Sun City Patrol about possible problems.
Most calls involve garage doors being left open or fliers piling up on a doorstep. Other calls might be about broken sprinkler heads that would gush water for hours if not caught or a porch light still on at noon, prompting a wellness check by security.
“It started as a focus on crime, but what I’ve found is it’s evolved into a neighbor-helping-neighbor thing,” Greenspan said.
She is often asked whether a person’s pet has what it takes to be a crime fighter.
“They don’t get it that it’s them I’m recruiting, not their dog so much,” Greenspan said.
Petrie said he was pleased other people were getting involved, as the police are shorthanded and busy elsewhere.
“We’re used to seeing everything,” Petrie said. “We know when something is amiss.”
To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email email@example.com or call 702-387-2949.