Town Of Minocqua To Field A K-9 Team
After an absence of several years, a police dog team will again become part of the Minocqua Police Department with all expenses of the dog, equipment and training funded by public and business donations currently in excess of $112,000.
The Minocqua Town Board unanimously agreed Tuesday to establish the K9 program after hearing that the department had surpassed the $82,000 of needed funds set by the board in August 2015 when approached about the program reinstatement.
Police Chief David Jaeger said the donation amount “shows there is public support for the K9 program and the community has voiced their support of the need for a K9 program within their community.” In addition to donations, money was collected at several fundraisers. “I think you guys did an outstanding job,” said Supervisor Billy Friend to the department members present.
Much of the cost – some $60,000 -- will go toward a squad car that will be used by the dog handler. The dog itself will cost about $15,000 and will stay with the department even if the handler resigns or is removed from the department. Handlers in many instances become quite attached to their dog, which is housed at their home during off-duty hours. It might be possible for a departing handler to later buy the dog on a prorated basis, the chief said later. Most law enforcement departments get about seven years of service from a K-9 dog, the police chief said.
The Minocqua police dog will be trained for two major roles: that of search and rescue and narcotic detection. The police chief outlined the next steps, which include an interviewing procedure to select the dog handler. He said later that he had at least two officers interested in the position. An applicant has to submit a letter of interest, complete a paper outlining what she or he hopes to accomplish with the program, and be interviewed by a review board and finally by the chief. Jaeger will make the final decision. The handler will receive a half-hour pay each day for taking care of the dog at home. The team will follow a monthly training schedule to maintain high proficiency, the chief said. The handler will go for intense training with the dog at the North Carolina training facility, Southern Police Canine, Inc., which is also the supplier of the dog. There’s an opening in January for the handler, the police chief added.
A chief supporter of the K9 program has been Patt Wegmann, owner of Lakeland Dog Training Center in Minocqua. Last month, she pledged $14,000 for the purchase of the dog. She has also pledged through the center an additional $1,000 for any equipment needed by the canine, as well as a promise to donate food during its lifetime as a K9. She offered kenneling of the dog at her facility when the handler is on vacation. The Wisconsin Vest-A-Dog, of Janesville, has offered to donate a bullet and stab resistant K9 vest, which normally costs from $1,000 to $1,500. Jaeger said his department plans to keep fundraising on the officers’ off-duty time for future expenses. “We want this to be the first of many dogs,” he told the board.