Mayor recognizes AU puppy, ‘Opelika,’ detector dog program

By Alison James
Associate Editor

Puppy Opelika, a bomb detector dog in training, greets Mayor Gary Fuller.

Photo by Robert Noles — Puppy Opelika, a detector dog in training, greets Mayor Gary Fuller.

It’s not every day a golden Labrador Retriever puppy joins the city council to be recognized. It’s not every day that puppy bears the city’s namesake. But Opelika was present at Tuesday’s meeting, along with his mother Lilly and members of the AU Canine Performance Science Detector Dog program.
Puppy Opelika, 10 weeks old, is in training to detect bombs, with his early life beginning at Auburn University in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Program volunteer Opelikan Lela Lofton suggested the special name for the puppy, and Mayor Gary Fuller and the city council honored puppy Opelika, research assistant Pam Haney, interim director Dr. Jim Floyd, Dr. Buddy Bruce and Lofton for their work with the program.
“We are a bomb detector dog program,” explained Floyd, describing the efforts that have been ongoing at Auburn for 20 years. “Our mission is, through science, to protect the public and advance the science of using dogs to protect the public in different ways … We just wanted to let Opelika know that you’re part of the process.”
The “hero in training” puppy Opelika will remain in the area until he is 6 months old, at which time he will enter a program elsewhere for four months. Floyd said they would be happy to bring puppy Opelika to any local club meetings or events to let the community meet him and be involved.
The city also:
– reappointed Jay Walters, Wilbert Payne and Chris Nunn to the Board of Zoning and Adjustments for terms ending Feb. 11, 2018.
– voted to amend the development plan for the Academy Estates PUD.
– approved the purchase of a 2015 Chevy Tahoe from State contract for OPD.
– heard from Mattie Clark during citizens communication about changes for this year’s National Night Out.
– approved the change in position title from Assistant Solid Waste Superintendent/Sanitation Officer to Solid Waste Supervisor/Sanitation Officer.
– approved a retransmission agreement with Media General.
– authorized a project management services agreement with Robins and Morton Group to construct a new Fire Headquarters facility.
– left an ordinance changing cemtery rates on the table. The ordinance was tabled at the Jan. 6 meeting at the recommendation of Councilwoman Patsy Jones and did not come under discussion during the Jan. 20 meeting.