First dog in K-9 unit no longer with us


(Photo courtesy of CSUN Department of Police Services)

Jamie Perez

Briska and her handler Corporal Leon Ortiz-Gil. (Photo courtesy of CSUN Department of Police Services)

After nine years of providing the CSUN campus with public safety services, the first dog in the K-9 police program passed away on December 29, 2014.

The full-bred German shepherd, Briska, was an immediate hit on campus when she first started serving in February 2005, alongside Officer Ray Gonzalez. Briska was born in the Netherlands, and was donated by her original family to serve as an explosive ordnance detection dog.

Department of Police Services Captain Alfredo Fernandez, noted her immediate significance as a member of the CSUN Police Department.

“She showed her value right away,” Fernandez said. “Having her was a real game changer in the department.”

Throughout her time serving at CSUN, Briska worked in patrol and handler protection, provided security at graduations, the Golden Globe Awards, the Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the 2008 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

“She was very popular from beginning to end,” Fernandez said.

When Briska retired in 2009, she received a standing ovation by the department, honoring her service for public safety.

Briska’s handler, Corporal Leon Ortiz-Gil, took her into his home for the remainder of her years.

(Photo courtesy of CSUN Department of Police Services)

While working alongside Briska, Ortiz-Gil found that students were more willing to engage in conversations.

“When you have a dog, it’s a great way to initiate conversation,” Ortiz-Gil said. “It breaks the barrier between police and the general public.”

Ortiz-Gil also commented on how well liked she was by the CSUN community.

“She was kind of like a local celebrity,” Ortiz-Gil said. “People would walk up to Briska and know who she was but wouldn’t recognize me. It’s like being married to a famous star where everyone knows that person but no one knows who their significant other is.”

Briska’s friendly, easy demeanor made her very popular with the police department. Ortiz-Gil mentioned that although he is not usually one to cry, losing Briska made the tears roll out.

“It just shows how much I really cared about her,” Ortiz-Gil said.

CSUN Chief of Police, Anne Glavin, recognizes how important the K-9 unit is to the campus. Losing the first dog that got the program started affected her, along with all members of the police department.

“I am deeply saddened on the passing of Briska,” Glavin said. “She was loved by the community and will always hold a special place in DPS history.”