Teen raises funds for K-9 unit
A Leavenworth County teen-ager has helped raise nearly $3,000 to help defray the cost of the county's purchase of another dog for the canine unit.
An accident in the fall claimed the life of one of the county's two dogs when a car struck Keesha, a 7-year-old Belgian malinois.
In January, the county paid about $6,300 for Kai, a 2-year old male German Shepherd from Czechoslovakia.
When Bryan Ross, 16, Lansing, a member of the Dog-R-Us 4-H Club, learned of Keesha's death and the unexpected expense in replacing the dog, he decided to hold a fundraiser.
And so, for his 4-H project, he organized a Paw-A-Thon and Dogs and Duds event in April in Leavenworth.
The Paw-A-Thon was organized as a walk-a-thon, with about 30 dogs and their owners participating. After that, pets competed in a costume contest, vying to be judged best in the funniest, cutest and sportiest costume categories.
"The money is going to a good cause, it's helping others and it's going back into the community," Ross said.
The dogs are trained to sniff for narcotics and to track people.
Doug Rollison, a deputy canine handler and the handler of Kai, said Kai came to the county already trained, but since then Rollison has been getting him used to his new surroundings. The dog lives with Rollison's family and when he goes to work, the dog goes, too.
Leavenworth County's other canine, Illo, is a 3-year-old Dutch shepherd handled by Sgt. Brian Holmes, who has been a canine officer since Illo's arrival in November 1998.
Like Kai, Illo lives at the home of his handler and when off duty, is treated like like the other family pets.
Sheriff Herb Nye said this arrangement works well.
"We'd rather do that than have them just check out a dog," Nye said. "There's a strong bond that forms between the handler and the dog."
The county recently purchased two 2000 Ford Explorers for the canine unit.
Holmes estimated that each of the equipped vehicles cost about $27,500.
They include a separate padded area in the rear of the vehicle, "hot dog kits," which are temperature-controlled devices that will automatically turn on a window fan, roll down windows and honk the horn if the vehicle gets too hot for the dog, and with a bailout rescue system so that in the event of an emergency when the officer is away from the vehicle, he can push a button on his belt to let the dog out.