Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
South Salt Lake officer Matt Jewkes gets a kiss from Wyatt, a South Jordan K-9 dog, after dropping off presents at the Christmas Box House.

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Santa didn't come with a sleigh and eight reindeer to the Christmas Box House here this year.

Instead, children found gifts under the tree thanks to Max, the South Jordan Police Department's bloodhound, and several of his police K9 friends.

For the sixth year in a row, the Wasatch Front Police K9 Association dropped off boxes and boxes of presents at the Christmas Box House, 3660 S. West Temple. K9 officers from several jurisdictions have spent the past several weeks collecting donations and taking money out of their own wallets to help children who might otherwise not get any presents.

"We enjoy it," said South Salt Lake police K9 officer Jim Anderson. "A lot of them come from needy families."

The Christmas Box House provides shelter and assessment services to children up to age 11 who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Many times, it is a police officer who is called upon to take a child out of a home, something that isn't easy for anyone involved, especially the child.

"A lot of these kids have had negative experiences with law enforcement. We want to give them a positive experience," Anderson said.

"We don't want the kids to see us in a negative light," added South Jordan Police K9 Sgt. Allen Crist. "The children are paramount with us."

Normally there are about a dozen children being housed in the shelter, Anderson said. This year, there are more than 20.

The children enjoy the chance to pet the police dogs as much as getting the actual presents, according to the officers. Typically, Max steals the show with his long nose and droopy ears. Children were given everything this year from toys, clothes and a bicycle to diapers and other basic infant needs.