A few of Bulloch County’s finest gathered at the Clubhouse in Statesboro on Monday night – and some of their handlers were able to attend the event as well.
Police K9 officers Rio of the Statesboro Police Department, Max, Gismo and Dutch from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, Deimos from Georgia Southern Department of Public Safety and Bruno, a retired Statesboro PD K9 officer, were all present for the event put on by the Georgia K9 Foundation.
The foundation was started earlier this year in an effort to raise money for officers who formally adopt their K9 partners after the K9 retires. Statesboro PD Officer Kyle Briley and Sergeant Kirk McGlamery of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office worked together on the idea in hopes of finding a way to offset some of the costs of caring for the dogs, which can often be injured or have different health issues related to their line of work.
The foundation’s focus is to provide K9 officers with needed and sometimes costly medical assistance for the first two years after retirement. There are requirements for eligibility for handlers or adopters seeking support from the foundation. The handler or adopter must apply to the foundation, providing information such as a letter from the agency stating that the K9 retired in good standing, details of breed/age/name/years of service, records of ongoing veterinary care during and after service, and be able to show that treatment is required for issues directly related to the K9’s service. Upon approval, the handler or adopter can be eligible for reimbursement up to $1,000 per year for two years. Although the K9s are retired from law enforcement, the foundation is not affiliated with any law enforcement agency.
Many of the K9s in the area are already treated by veteraniarians at Gateway Animal Hospital and Best Friends Animal Hospital, both long time partners for law enforcement K9 officers.
But even with that help, vet bills as dogs age can get expensive. Without a doubt, members of the community want to see law enforcement officers, who spend years working with a K9, keep their dog even when the dog is no longer working for the department and cost should not be a deterrent for that. That’s the premise of the Georgia K9 Foundation.
Sheriff Noel Brown was there in support and briefly spoke with AllOnGeorgia on the partnership between law enforcement, the K9 Retirement Foundation, and the community.
“The way people come together to help one another and this foundation supporting K9s and law enforcement, it’s just your animal-loving society. These animals give their life to law enforcement and then 99% of the time they retire to a good home with their handler. There’s been a lot of support lately and I feel like that’s because of a hand being extended from both sides,” Brown said. “And I like seeing people work together.”
President of the Foundation Nick Propps was also there and said the organization is still working on building a base. Having started in Bulloch County, the support is already strong, and is making its way into Effingham County, but the hope is to start a chapter in every county across Georgia. The first step in doing that is forming partnerships with law enforcement agencies and then letting the community know the need.
The foundation is in the process of completing the 501(c)3 process to become a IRS-recognized non-profit. You can learn more about donating to their cause here.