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Going to the dogs: Sheriff’s office gears up for second K9 unit

When it comes to fighting crime, The Becker County Sheriff’s Office has decided that two tails are better than one.

The sheriff’s office has raised enough money to move ahead with a second K9 unit, Sheriff Todd Glander announced at the Becker County Board meeting Tuesday. Deputy Daran Borth will be the new K9 officer. The dog has not yet been purchased.

Money for the K9 dogs and training has been raised through private donations. “We’ve received over $10,000 since since you gave approval to accept funds raised for a K9 package,” Glander told commissioners.

From 2016 to 2018, the department raised over $36,000 to restart its K9 program. “We have over $15,000 left from that,” Glander said. “Between the two, we have enough to pay for the (second) K9 package, it includes training, the dog, and equipment.”

After six years without a K9 unit, Becker County renewed the program in 2015, receiving a flood of donations from residents, businesses and civic organizations, Glander said. “With these donated funds, the sheriff’s office purchased Cooper. After 12 weeks of intense training, the team of Deputy Cody Bouchie and K9 Cooper began serving the residents of Becker County.”

Since then, the team has responded to well over 100 calls, helping arrest suspects and find hidden narcotics. The team also won first place in a competitive K9 narcotics-location event in the spring of 2017 and other honors.

K9 dogs generally serve from seven to 10 years, and the second K9 unit will ensure the department has continued service when Cooper (now 4 1/2 years old) retires.

“We have one dog coming on board and one dog about halfway through its working life,” Chief Deputy Shane Richard said in an interview. “If we can keep the ball rolling with donations, we will always have two dogs at the sheriff’s office.”

Both K9 units will take turns working nights and evenings, giving the sheriff’s office a K9 presence every night of the week, Richard said. The K9 teams will also be on-call if needed during the daytime hours, he said.

Glander expects the new K9 unit to be up and running later this year.

Cost for a K9 dog is $15,000 for the dog, which come from Germany; about $4,500 for equipment; and another $4,000 in training costs for the officer and dog to train together as a team. The total cost is about $23,600 and the department budgets about $2,000 a year for costs associated with the K9 unit.

“This fall the two (Deputy Borth and his new dog) will train together at a K9 school in the Twin Cities. “It’s quite a commitment on the part of the agency and the officers involved,” Richard said.

But the K9 program has been a big plus for the sheriff’s office. “It’s a really positive program,” Richard said. “We get a lot of good comments from the public.”

Every dog is different, but Cody’s dog Cooper has a great personality, and is popular with kids and others at school appearances and public demonstrations, Richard said. Cooper has also turned into a first-rate tracker. “It’s very impressive to see him work,” Richard said. He has become an excellent search and rescue dog for lost people, as well as tracking down and helping capture criminal suspects, Richard said.

Commissioners also authorized the purchase of a 2020 Ford Utility Hybrid squad car for the new K9 unit.

Webber Ford of Detroit Lakes submitted the low bid of $37,121.

The department opted for an electric-gas hybrid because K9 vehicles spend a lot of time on idle to keep the temperature controlled for the dog.

The vehicle purchase is the first of a larger fleet purchase of squad cars that the sheriff’s office expects to make this year.