On Tuesday this week Highland County’s K-9 officers received their own badges from the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office.
This is a good thing.
The dogs probably don’t care one way or the other if they are outfitted with items befitting their position, like the badges, and the protective vests that they each received through the generosity of others earlier this year.
They are dogs, and while highly trained, they are still dogs that have wants that don’t extend too far beyond their basic needs of work, food and love.
Prosecutor Anneka Collins and her office were right to purchase the badges for the dogs, whether the furry officers care about how official they look or not. And providing badges to the K-9 officers of Highland County is something that Collins said she will continue to do as long as she is in office.
By the way, the badges were not purchased with any taxpayer money, but from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. In criminal cases, when money is seized or property seized and then sold, that fund is where the money goes. And it is money that the dogs have helped bring in, Collins said Tuesday.
These K-9s are a valuable tool to our communities and the dog’s natural abilities, honed by constant training, enable them to perform duties for the safety and security of the communities they serve that not even the finest of their human counterparts could accomplish.
The Tuesday gathering of the dogs and their handlers at the prosecutor’s office was noisy, a bit rambunctious at times, and afforded those of us watching a few laughs. But it was worth it to get all the dogs together, each wearing their shiny new badges that match their respective department’s badges, and that have their names engraved on the back.
There’s K-9 D’Jango, a 4-year-old German shepherd, with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office with handler Sgt. Craig Seaman. There’s the Hillsboro Police Department’s K-9 Harley, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, with handler officer Adam Day. The Greenfield Police Department has two dogs, K-9 Chica who is handled by patrolman Shawn Shanks, and K-9 Rony who is handled by chief Jeremiah Oyer. Chica is an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois that has been with GPD for approximately five years. Rony, a Czechoslovakian shepherd, is 4 years old.
In the cases of all the dogs, after a day’s work they go home with their handlers where they are just a dog and part of the family. And, in talking with all of the respective agencies, all the dogs are supported in large part by donations from the community.
HPD Chief Todd Whited said community donations are how Harley’s food is paid for. The same goes for D’Jango, sheriff Donnie Barrera said. In Greenfield, the village pays for the food, but a lot of donations come in, too, Oyer said.
While the dogs have their jobs to do and have been directly responsible for the removal of an untold amount of drugs off the streets, there is another side, too. In my experiences with the dogs and the community as a whole, the K-9s are a popular thing. They have visited Rotary Clubs, put on demonstrations during events, and been a part of elementary students’ learning.
Currently, there is a K-9 fund at Merchants Bank in Greenfield for the purpose of purchasing a third K-9 officer for the department. Oyer said anyone wanting to donate can go to the bank and let the teller know what the donation is for and it will go right into the account. A new dog will cost about $12,000, Oyer said previously, but it is the chief’s goal to have a K-9 on each shift.
That, too, is a good thing. As I said, these animals are capable of much more than any human officer and are an asset to any community that they serve.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.