Group raises money to fund K-9 program for Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Some of the most popular deputies in Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are their K-9s. They currently have six dogs in the unit, even though the sheriff’s office doesn’t have the budget to buy or train them.

In 2011, a group that cares for the K-9s decided they wanted to do more, so they started the charity called Friends of Douglas County K-9 (or K-9 Friends).

They raise money to buy new dogs for the sheriff’s office.

“I think it’s amazing what they do," volunteer Loni Hale said. "You think of them as furry four-legged officers, but they work just as hard or harder in that they have such specialized training to keep us safe.”

But they aren’t cheap.

“They range in price depending on the amount of training they have from $8,000 up to $12,000 to $15,000," Franktown Animal Clinic veterinarian Kim Vanderholm said.

"And we use new handlers as well. That handler needs training as well. Last year we purchased two new dogs for the department. The cost including the cost of sending the officer out for training was about $20,000 per dog.”

The handlers say their partners are priceless.

“All of our dogs are trained to do the same thing: They all find narcotics, they all track, they all apprehend or bite," Cpl. Todd Tucker said. "The dogs are there to protect officers.

"Zeus’ job is to go in when maybe you wouldn’t send a human officer in there. We don’t like to talk about it because ultimately no one wants their partner or my best friend killed in the line of duty. But that’s his job. His job is to be fearless  to go in there, find the bad guy where it’s not safe to send officers."

K-9 Friends says since 2011, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit has been deployed 9,000 times, helping in 800 arrests and the seizure of 130 pounds of narcotics.

The deputies are very grateful.

“Without friends of K-9, I don’t think we’d have a K-9 unit, at least not this big," Tucker said. "Dogs are expensive, they require a lot of maintenance, they eat like horses, they require training.

"Without them, we just don’t have the budget to provide everything the dogs need. we couldn’t ask for anything more, we’ve really never been told no. if we need something, they find a way to make it happen.”

It is hosting their annual Howling Good Time Gala on Sept. 19. The group is looking for items for the silent auction.

Tickets can be purchased and donations made at the organization's website.

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