SUBMITTED
K9 Chance came out of retirement to serve the Houston County Sheriff’s Office after K9 Ray was tragically struck by a vehicle in November. The department is searching for a new K9 so Chance can retire again.
SUBMITTED K9 Chance came out of retirement to serve the Houston County Sheriff’s Office after K9 Ray was tragically struck by a vehicle in November. The department is searching for a new K9 so Chance can retire again.
If a dog is man’s best friend, a police K9 is definitely an officer’s best co-worker, and the Houston County Sheriff’s Department expects to have a new one soon.

The Houston County K9 Foundation met their goal of raising enough money to fund a new K9 for the Houston County Sheriff’s Department, after a tragic incident took the life of their recently acquired K9 Ray in November.

Ray got loose of his kennel and ran toward a road where he was struck by a vehicle. He died of injuries shortly after.

The event struck the sheriff’s office and county residents hard, as Ray had joined the department in October. K9 Chance came out of retirement to serve the department while they search for a new K9.

But luckily for the county, the Houston County K9 Foundation and its board was created in August, for the purpose of funding and financially supporting Houston County’s K9 force.

More than $9,000 was raised from a Go-Fund-Me campaign and other donations brought in, said board member Josh Johnson.

“It was amazing how quickly the donations came in,” he remarked. “We met our goal within a week and a half.”

Donations are always welcome to the foundation, as supporting a K9 is more than just purchasing and providing well-earned kibble.

There are also expenses like vaccines; veterinarian visits; training for drugs, takedowns and search and rescue; and certification that go with the training.

“Concerned citizens formed the K9 Foundation to support that cause,” Johnson said. “We got a few fairly good sized donations. People can still donate to us.”

The organization is a non-profit and is separate from the sheriff’s department.

Lieutenant Trace Erickson will choose the new recruit since he has the K9 training and expertise to work with police dogs. The dog will live with him at his home and will be leased by the county.

K9s can be trained in a number of different ways to help police departments, such as search and rescue, take downs, narcotics detection, bomb detection and much more.

Different breeds of dogs have the drive to be a police dog, such as Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and Belgian malinois.

Houston County’s K9s are usually trained in three areas: narcotics detection, search and rescue and takedowns. The past K9s have almost always been German shepherds.

Sheriff Mark Inglett said K9 Chance helped find weapons in a cornfield after two individuals shot at and fled police officers in La Crescent in summer 2017.

“The handler does the selection because he has the training and expertise,” Inglett said. “We have to make sure they have the right temperament for police work, but also for school visits.”

The dog has to know when to change its temperament, depending on the situation. The K9 can often be seen giving a demonstration in schools or at the Houston County Fair.

Of the K9 foundation, Inglett said the department is glad to have them as a helper.

“We need assistance like that from the public. We can’t always utilize tax dollars,” Inglett said. “It’s expensive to operate, but the dog fulfills a lot of different areas that we couldn’t accomplish without it.”

The search has already begun for a new K9 and the department hopes to find one by spring.

Check out the foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ Houston-County-K-9-Foundation-1401970983213530/.