(WASHINGTON) - The Washington Police Department now has a K-9 unit on each shift with the purchase of Drago, a Belgian Malinois partnered with second-shift sergeant, Greg Dietsch.
WPD Chief Mike Healy said the benefit of having a K-9 on each shift is a much shorter time frame to get the unit on the scene when needed. Also, the K-9 officer doesn't have to be called in when it's not his shift.
He said 10-month-old Drago was purchased in Kentucky, at a place where police K-9s are raised. He is a drug, tracking and apprehension dog.
The other units include K-9 Diesel, a 2-year-old German shepherd partnered with Sgt. Derrick Devine on third shift, and K-9 Kane, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois working first shift with Ptl. Craig Cox. The officers volunteer for the position, and they're responsible for raising funds to pay their dog's expenses. They also keep their K-9 partners at their homes. Training for K-9 units is ongoing, and each dog and handler must be certified together annually.
Diesel is fully certified to be a drug, tracking and apprehension dog. Healy said currently Kane is primarily a drug dog, but the department may look at getting him fully trained later. Sgt. Dietsch said the city's K-9 units also provide support for the Daviess County Sheriff's Department and law enforcement in Pike County.
Businesses, individuals and organizations have made donations to the K-9 funds. The money is used for supplies such as cages for the police cars, training, veterinary bills, and dues for a K-9 association.
One organization helping the WPD K-9 division is the Junior Order of Eagles, a group of 127 youths aged 6 months to 17 years. These young people have collected donations, had yard sales and other fund-raising projects to support various charities.
The JOE will present a check to the WPD K-9 division at an event featuring Drago, Diesel and Kane Saturday at McDonald's. It will begin at 8 p.m., and besides all three dogs and their handlers, the chief of police, mayor and other officials will be on hand. The public is invited to attend.
Anyone wishing to help the JOE help the WPD with their K-9s can contact Diane Wilz at 698-1778, or Sgt. Dietsch may be reached at 254-4410.
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