Estes Park Police Officer Mikel Otazua has been selected to be the very first K9 handler for the Estes Park Police Department. He has been employed with the Estes Park Police Department since May of 2016.

Mikel Otazua was born in Caracas, Venezuela. At the age of six, he moved to Dallas, Texas with his family. Mikel's passion for dogs began around this time when his family rescued their first dog, a German Shepard named Dollar. Mikel was often found playing with Dollar and teaching him simple tricks at home.

Mikel and his family then moved to Miami, Florida in June of 2006. After graduating high school, Mikel attended Miami-Dade Community College. He transferred to Florida International University where he studied Criminal Justice.

Mikel has a passion for dogs. While in Miami, Mikel's family adopted a French Mastiff named Hooch who was named after the dog in the 1989 movie, "Turner and Hooch." After moving out of the family home, Mikel fostered two American Pitbull Terriers from high-kill shelters. He fostered them until they found their forever homes. Mikel also fostered a sickly black lab puppy that he received from a friend who was not able to care for her. He nursed the puppy back to health and the puppy was adopted by a retired Miami-Dade Police K9 handler.

In January of 2015, Mikel moved to Denver, Colorado where he continued his education at the University of Colorado - Denver. Mikel then attended and completed a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Academy in Aurora, Colorado. He was hired by the Estes Park Police Department where he plans to work until his retirement.

Mikel's life-long career goal has been to become a K9 Handler in a small town. He feels very fortunate to have been hired on by an excellent agency in such a supportive community.

Learn more about the Estes Park Police Department's fundraising efforts to launch a K9 program at www.estes.org/K9. Donations of all amounts are appreciated!

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