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Clay County may accept donations for police dog

MOORHEAD -- The Clay County Sheriff's Department lost one of its own late last year when Indy, one of the department's two police dogs, died.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist said Indy was a great ambassador for his department and a hard worker and he would like to find a replacement.

The problem is, a tight budget has kept the county from filling two deputy positions and Bergquist said he finds it difficult to justify the approximately $100,000 cost for the service life of a police canine, usually about 8½ years.

He said the department is open to the possibility of accepting donations from the public if individuals feel the department should have another police dog.

Clay County Commission Chairman Kevin Campbell said at Tuesday's board meeting that he has spoken with individuals interested in doing that, but no one has made a commitment.

Bergquist said Tuesday that using taxpayer dollars to fund another canine wouldn't be right when human jobs remain unfilled and there is a good chance more cuts will be made in the coming year.

"If it (the cost of a canine) was totally donated, we would be moving forward with a new dog," said Bergquist. The acquisition price of an animal is small compared to the long-term care and training costs, he said.

The expense of maintaining a dog, including food and veterinarian services, amounts to about $90,000 over the service life of a police canine, according to information provided to the commission Tuesday.

The cost for acquiring a pre-trained canine that would be handled by a trained handler adds another $10,800 to that $90,000 basic cost.

If the dog is not pre-trained and the handler must also be trained, the initial acquisition and training expense would tack about $17,838 onto the basic $90,000 cost of caring for and training a police canine for about 8½ years.