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I started watching the news again.  I noticed tons of discussions on Facebook, people getting all worked up, and I decided that I wanted to know what's going on in the world.  The news is depressing, discouraging, and it can get you in trouble when you question what you've learned.

Image: Stryker – retired Tukwila PD tracking dog

Last week, I saw a news story about a retired police dog that passed from canine cancer.  In that story, I learned about Valley Retired Police Dog Association.  This organization raises money to help care for retired police dogs.  It's not State, County, or City run.

Surprised?

Me too.  I always thought police dogs were treated the same as officers, but it's been only in the past decade that we're seeing laws change to treat the murder of a police dog the same as the murder of a police officer.

The Cost of a Police Dog

According to the City of Glendale, California, “the cost of the dogs purchased in Germany is approximately $8,000 for the dog alone. The initial cost for the training of the dog for patrol, detection, and tracking is approximately $12,000. Therefore, the total cost to purchase and train one police dog is approximately $20,000.”  ~ Source: City of Glendale, Police Department FAQs

Image: Jinx, retired drug detection dog, Kent police department

Remember Oso?  This is the City of Arlington police dog who ate Darwin's Natural Pet raw dog food for a few months this past summer.  Read more about Oso and Darwin's.

Image: Gino, retired Tukwila police dog (recently passed)

Officer Kinney raised funds to bring Oso over from Europe, train him, and it's community support that helps care for Oso.  This surprised me, because I thought K9 units were part of a police department's budget, but this isn't always the case.  “There are simply not enough funds for most agencies to include the cost of K-9s and their up-keep in the general budget.” Source: National Police Dog Foundation

When a Police Dog Retires

So it isn't surprising that it takes community support to care for a police dog when s/he retires.  Gino is a police dog who recently lost his battle with cancer.  The cost of his care nearly depleted funds raised by the Valley Retired Police Dog Association.  Seeing this news story inspired me to write a story to raise awareness of dogs around the country who need our support.

“K-9 handlers say these dogs do rigorous work during the span of their careers, so when it’s time to retire, they’re faced with many medical needs that their handlers simply can’t afford.” Source: Q13Fox.com

Image: Tanner, retired Kent police department drug detection dog

How We Can Help Retired Police Dogs

There are three simple things we can do to help retired police dogs in our area and across the country:

1.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest (or even if you don’t) I encourage you to donate whatever you can to the Valley Retired Police Dog Association

2.  Donate closer to home by reaching out to your local police department to ask if they have a K9 Unit and how you can help support active and retired dogs.

3.  Raise funds locally to donate: garage sales, backyard party, or a gala.

I'm very passionate about law enforcement, because my best friend, dog loving partner, and boyfriend is a Deputy.  Seeing the commitment local K9 officers have with their dogs and partners, hearing my boyfriend's stories about working with a K9 Unit, and knowing what it takes to raise an aging dog has inspired this post.  And it's inspired me to support local, retired police dogs.

I hope you're inspired too.

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