'CHiPs' Star Donates Police Dog to Department That Can't Afford the $15K Price Tag


There’s a new police dog in town, thanks in part to the efforts of Erik Estrada, actor-turned-officer for the St. Anthony’s Police Department in eastern Idaho.

The 69-year-old has served as a reserve officer since July 2016, helping to increase the department’s capacity to serve its community.

Estrada is best remembered as Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello in the TV show “CHiPS.” The 1970s series followed the adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers for six seasons.

Estrada’s “Ponch” days may be over, but his real cop days are just beginning. Estrada is keen on supporting efforts to protect children from internet predators, as well as providing whatever materials and resources the department needs to fully function.

Trump's Would-Be Assassin Is Identified, Here's What We Know

The presence of a fully trained K9 police dog was a sorely lacking resource at St. Anthony’s and the surrounding area. After realizing the department would have to spend upwards of $15,000 on a K9, Estrada and his team set out on a fundraising mission.

Estrada and his reserve officer colleagues launched a fundraising campaign that began in Oct. 2017 and ended in March. Their work came to fruition in April, when K9 Mako, a 3-year-old German Shepherd/Malinois mix joined the force.

St. Anthony’s Police Chief Allen Neff introduced Mako to the community, along with Mako’s handler, Sgt. Greg Belew. Neff thanked the donors who brought Mako home to Idaho, adding how the dog’s presence will be vital to the community.

K9 Mako “will be a phenomenal asset not only to us but to the community,” Neff stated. K9 Mako’s primary role will be narcotics searches, particularly at local schools.

“Police K9 Mako will be a welcome addition to our team and to the department,” Neff said. “I am confident that this will translate to a great working relationship for our community and help us better fight the ever present war on illegal drugs.”

Neff was grateful for Estrada’s efforts to spearhead the campaign to bring K9 Mako home. With an already stretched budget, Neff explained, allocating $15,000 for the purchase of a K9 would not have been prudent.

K9 Mako and Belew are set to attend Idaho’s Police Officer Standards and Training to obtain their Idaho certification. “Without the support of our active reserve police officers and Ret. Chief Harris, we would not have been able to get this project accomplished,” Belew stated, naming each officer who worked on the campaign.

Former Child Star and His Service Dog Found Dead in Hot Car

“I look forward to working with K9 Mako for many years to come to help our community,” Belew added. Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful new partnership.

Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best uplifting stories here.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, ,
A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Page, Arizona
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Lifestyle & Human Interest