A charity fundraiser is scheduled to help the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department take a bite out of its expenses for its K-9 officers.
A Rockin’ Bowl benefit will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight, Friday at Meadow Lanes Bowling Alley, 2111 N. A. with all proceeds to go to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit.
Entirely funded by donations from the public, the K-9 program started more than 10 years ago with the help of Deputy Roger Church, who became the department’s first K-9 officer.
Training starts with certification from the Kansas Highway Patrol and once the dogs are deemed worthy to enter the field, training doesn’t stop with time taken out of officers’ days to keep the dogs up to snuff on the latest techniques and training. K-9 officers currently received once-a-week training at the Sheriff’s Department.
Over the entire lifespan of the dog, costs could be up to $10,000 for each officer and training.
“They are expensive, but it’s an important job they do,” Capt. Mike Yoder said.
Having K-9 officers has made a difference on patrol, he said.
“A lot of times these guys are out by themselves and just the presence of a dog can sometimes stop something from happening,” Yoder said.
K-9s have been able to find evidence with their keen sense of smell and have been used when looking for suspects or the missing.
“Their nose is a thousand times better than ours and they can pick up odors we don’t even think about,” Church said.
The dogs are treated just like any other officer, including their work schedule.
“The dogs go with them everyday, so they are used everyday,” Yoder said.
K-9 officers are trained for patrol and for drug detection, making them valuable partners in fighting crime. K-9s can be sent into situations that could cost human lives with the advantage of knowing the job will get done right.
“As a human we know fear, but the dog doesn’t know fear. When we send him after somebody, he doesn’t understand the thought of fear, he’s going to do his job and that’s what he’s trained to do. A K-9 is nothing more than another tool on our belt,” Church said.
Though K-9s have jobs to do, the relationship between handler and dog is more than just work.
“For me it’s very important as an officer, because you get really attached to them and it’s like he’s 100 percent your partner. He’s dedicated to you, you’re dedicated to him and it’s 100 percent partners,” Church said.
Organizers are hoping the bowling event will bring in money to keep the program going steadily for years to come and will help with the purchase of a new dog.
Dogs are retired once they can’t physically handle the work anymore.
The department is looking to retire one of its K-9 officers, Ranger, who is partnered with Church.
The department is already looking into getting another replacement for the aging Ranger.
“We’ve been really fortunate in the past with vets and Wal-mart donating food and services…they help out quite a bit with that,” Yoder said. “The dogs are just like anything or anyone else…they require constant attention and constant care. And that’s one thing with the handlers … the dogs go home with them, they are part of their family, they intermingle with them 24/7.”
Funding started with door-to-door donations, with every dime coming from the public.
“The taxpayers pay absolutely no money for these dogs. Everything we do, including vet bills, food, training, everything is 100 percent donated,” Church said.
By Theresa Lee