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With girl's help, police dog's a Champ

Soon after 10-year-old Yuremi Conde arrived in Clearwater from Uruguay a year ago, she developed respect for the police.

It started when an Officer Friendly visited her school. It blossomed when students at her school were challenged to name the Clearwater Police Department's newest police dog.

Yuremi, who is rapidly learning English, thought the Spanish word Campion _ or champion _ might be a good name. She entered the moniker into a student competition to name the dog, but also made the word into an acronym that would describe the dog's actions.

For C, she wrote, "Clean this world of drugs." For A, she wrote, "Always help others."

Clearwater police chose Yuremi's name-choice out of more than 100 entries from students at Sandy Lane Elementary School. However, police said they will truncate the name to Champ.

"It took a lot of thought for a 10-year-old to come up with an acronym that long," said Sgt. Eric Gandy, supervisor of the department's canine team.

Police on Wednesday morning introduced Champ to all Sandy Lane fifth-graders during a presentation at the Albertsons at Belcher and Sunset Point roads. Police dogs performing tricks and routines received oohs and ahs from students.

Albertsons and Milk Bone presented the police department with a $5,000 check at the presentation to help covers costs for the new dog.

Police also honored Yuremi, who received a certificate, a Milk Bone sweat shirt, a bouquet of flowers and an Albertsons gift certificate.

"He's always going to be a champion because he'll always be working for the police department," Yuremi said through Silvia Nava, a bilingual assistant at the school.

Yuremi's parents, Miriam Guerra and Eduardo Torena, said they were proud of their daughter.

"There are no words to describe how proud we are right now," her mother said through Nava.

Champ, a German shepherd from Hungary, will go through 17 weeks of training with Gandy. He will fill out the department's canine team, which has five dogs. The canines are used to capture suspects, retrieve evidence and sniff for drugs.

Police picked Champ from several other dogs because he is enthusiastic and is eager to retrieve things.

Untrained police dogs cost between $4,000 and $6,000, then must receive a minimum of 400 hours in training. They are most often adopted by the officers.

"You probably have $30,000 into a dog when it's all said and done," Gandy said.

Milk Bone has teamed up with retail grocers to sponsor almost 150 police dogs nationwide over the last four years. The company also has sponsored 126 dogs for people with disabilities over the last five years.

_ Chris Tisch can be reached at 445-4156 or tischsptimes.com.

What Campion means

Ten-year-old Yuremi Conde's acronym of the name Campion, her winning name for the newest addition to the Clearwater Police Department's canine team:

C _ Clean this world of drugs.

A _ Always help others.

M _ Make kids feel safe.

P _ Put bad people in jail.

I _ Invite people to love each other.

O _ Only you can make good choices.

N _ Never use drugs.

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