Foundation Raises Funds for K9 Cop’s Medical Bills

By Tim Pompey

When it comes to police work, the K9 unit has become an essential tool for law enforcement.

According to the website Dogs for Law Enforcement, dogs have been used since the Roman times as sentries and for hunting. They began to be used in the 20th century “for certain important roles: sentry dog, scout or patrol dog, messenger dog, or mine dog.”

Their role in police work took a foothold in the U.S. in the 1970s and has grown increasingly important in law enforcement.

For Kenny Welch, Sergeant of the Ventura Police Department’s (VPD) K9 Unit, police dogs are an important first line of defense to ensure an officer’s safety. “We send the dog in first to make sure it’s safe,” said Welch. “They help us know whether a suspect is hiding, whether we’re trying to find a missing person, or we’re trying to apprehend somebody. They really offer us a huge line of safety before we get into some harm’s way.”

In the case of VPD’s K9 unit, however, they are only partially funded through their department’s budget. When it comes to such things as training and medical treatment, typically VPD and other K9 units must raise funds to support the overall care of the dog.

“The VPD gives us a small budget (@ $15,000) to pay for food, along with some training tools for the dogs, kennels, and to get the officer set up at home,” Welch explained. “But that doesn’t pay for any of the training of the dogs. All the training for the handlers and any outside equipment that we may need comes from donations.”

The Herman Bennett Foundation sponsored a small street fair at the Harbor Cove Cafe to help raise funds to cover medical expenses for the Ventura Police Departments K9, Rover

Such was the case on Saturday, June 10, when the Herman Bennett Foundation (HBF), a private nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners spay and neuter their cats and dogs, sponsored a small fair at the Harbor Cove Cafe’s parking lot and lawn. The fair helped raise funds for the medical treatment of one of VPD’s K9s named Rover. They called the event “Come on Over, Help Support Rover.”

Welch explained that Rover has had some back and spinal issues that have incurred considerable healthcare costs over the last few months. “From training and doing bite work, Rover has something like sciatica or a back pinch,” said Welch. “He needed some acupuncture, chiropractic, and blood work, and all that is pretty expensive for a dog.”

These dogs are not your typical house pets. Rover is the equivalent of a well-trained athlete. As his handler, J.C. Rodriguez, described it, Rover has advantages over human beings, both in speed and in his sense of smell: “The K9 is used for building searches, exterior article searches, narcotic searches, tracking missing lost and found, or pursuing fleeing felons. We run the gamut of what we can do with the dog.”

Officer J.C.Rodriguez with his K9 Rover

Most important, Rover helps keep Rodriguez safe. They’re big, they’re fast, and they’re very loyal to their handlers. “All the dogs are trained in handler protection,” said Rodriguez, “so we build that bond over time and it’s almost instinctive to them. I can have him here and if somebody comes up behind me and starts beating me up, he’s automatically going to engage to try and protect me.”

Like any elite athlete, however, these dogs can get hurt doing a very difficult job. “They’re service dogs and they work really hard,” Welch noted. “They put in 100% no matter what they do, and when they’re hurt, it’s the VPD who raises funds to help cover their medical expenses.”

Fortunately, Rover is back on duty. Just a couple of weeks ago, he helped find a perpetrator fleeing from police. He was hiding in the bushes and Rover sniffed him out. While Rover is back to work, the bills remain to be paid.

Charlotte Brown, the president of the Herman Bennett Foundation, credits their marketing director, Amber Adam, for learning about the VPD’s K9 funding dilemma.

Charlotte Brown, President, Herman Bennett Foundation

“Our marketing director was out in the field and did some research and found that the K9 dogs didn’t receive any medical support from their police departments; that it was all based on donations,” she said. “There was one that needed medical services. That was Rover. So, we decided to get behind the bandwagon and support him.”

Any proceeds raised by this event will be split 50/50 between the VPD K9 units and the HBF. “We’re trying to raise whatever we can, as much as we can,” said Brown. “Today I’d like to raise $5,000, maybe $10,000 to cover the medical needs of Rover right now. Even though he’s back on active duty, there are still some medical expenses he incurred.”

For the VPD, this is one of many stops they’ll make to raise funds for their K9 unit. “We go out, we have a Bark Out Loud Event, we have a wonderful event like this with the Herman Bennett Foundation, and we raise funds to purchase the dogs and then also send the handlers and the dogs through their training programs,” said Welch.

It’s an added duty for these officers, but an important one given what Rover and his team have accomplished in the field. On the front lines of law enforcement, these dogs are a strong line of protection. Welch, Rodriguez and the VPD K9 team are dedicated to ensuring that these dogs get the care they need to do their jobs.

“We’re trying to prolong Rover’s life as much as possible,” said Welch. “He loves to work with us. His handler is really good. We want to make sure we can get another few years out of him. Events like this will allow us to continue the treatment and allow him to stay on the job longer.”

 

Photo Credits: Tim Pompey


Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/booksbytimpompey.

Mr. Pompey’s Newest Book:  

deep.downDeep Down  is another roller coaster collection of short stories by author Tim Pompey. A mortician with ghost problems. A humanoid stranded in outer space. A B-17 bomber pilot haunted by voices from his past. These and other stories dig beneath reality and crawl through hidden tunnels to a world that exists without and within us. From childhood to old age, these stories are locked inside the mind, waiting to be discovered.

Go deep. Very deep. Find out what lies buried within your own imagination.

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