CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Police Department’s K-9 Division took more than a major step toward its goal of acquiring a fourth K9 unit. It took a giant leap coupled with a huge tail wag of glee when a resident wrote a check for $16,000 on Jan. 14.
Explaining her gift “is not about me,” the donor, a lifelong dog lover who retired to Crestview with her husband, wished to remain anonymous.
“It’s for the community and the safety of the police officers,” she said as she discussed her gift with Police Chief Jamie Grant and Deputy Chief Lisa Sprague. “It makes me feel good to help the community.”
On Jan. 11, she and her husband welcomed a visit from K9 Officers Joshua Ellrick and Hero, as well as a couple of the team’s officer buddies.
As she settled down in her driveway to rub Hero’s soft ears and tummy, she told of how the couple’s love of dogs led them to settle in Crestview, where their large backyard gives their German shepherds plenty of exercise space.
She then wrote her first check to the K9 unit, a $917 gift that will buy a top-of-the-line ballistics and safety vest for the Dutch shepherd, who, when she would pause to chat with the officers, would nudge her gently to encourage her resume petting him.
“Nothing but the best for this good boy,” she said.
“Ma’am, you have no idea how much this means to us,” Officer Ellrick said.
While the other two Crestview Police K9s, Kody and Sonic, qualified for vests through Spike’s Fund, a non-profit that provides K9 safety equipment at no cost to law enforcement agencies, Hero, being a “single purpose” dog, didn’t qualify. The donor’s gift made sure he, too, received the custom-made protective equipment.
Kody and Sonic are classified as “dual purpose,” being certified for both tracking and scent detection as well as apprehension. Hero is certified only in tracking and scent detection.
The donor’s gifts join funds raised during a “meet the K9s” night at McAlister’s Deli last summer, and $2,000 raised by students at Walker Elementary School to help the police department acquire a fourth dog. All four duty shifts will then have a fully equipped K-9 unit.
The donations will be administered by the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni, a non-profit independent organization that supports and partners with the Police Department in raising funds for equipment and training not covered by ordinary city budget money.
“The generosity we receive from this wonderful lady and the great kids at Walker, and all our community supporters, warms our hearts,” Chief Grant said. “To have this much support tells us we’re going in the right direction.”