MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) — Believe it or not, the K9 program at the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office only exists because of a giant donation back in the 80s.
“We’re getting to a point where our costs are starting to exceed what the interest is for that account,” said Sheriff Dan Hartwig of the sheriff’s office. “So, unfortunately, we have to be at the point right now where we got to ask the public for help.”
At $14,000 a pop, these pups are not cheap.
The goal is to raise $100,000.
“Our canine program does not cost our taxpayers a dime,” he said. “So, we do not budget any money for our K9 program. It is all funded by the generosity of our citizens right here in Manitowoc County.”
The job of a K9 handler requires a healthy dose of commitment.
“These dogs come home with us every day, they’re part of our families and when he’s not at work with me, it feels very weird,” said Deputy Chris Hemauer, who’s handled K9 Leon for about three years.
Leon and Keto have been with the department for a few years, providing an invaluable tool: their noses.
They can provide a leg up in combating the drug world and can even sniff out people who have gone missing.
“We can send them into a situation where we may not want to officers in harm’s way,” he said. “At that point, we can send a dog in to clear the area for us. It allows us to work more efficiently and safer in attempts to apprehend suspects.”
And seeing is believing.
“Just come and ask for demos and watch our dogs at work and actually see what they can do,” said Hemauer. “They’re a powerful tool, and unless you see them in person, you can’t really see the true effect of them.”
The department is accepting any help it can get to maintain the dogs.
“We’ve had that rich tradition here for a very long time,” said Hartwig. “They’ve been part of this community, part of our agency, and–quite frankly–part of our family.”
If you’re interested in donating to the K9 program you can give the office a call at (920) 683-4200.