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Sheriff Jay Varney accepts check for K9 unit from Grace Community Friendship Circle president David Fisher - photo by Gina Clugston

Grace Community Does Their Part For Deputy Dogs

NORTH FORK — Nickels, dimes and quarters — and the occasional bill — dropped into a jar labeled “Deputy Dog” have added up over the past 10 years to the healthy sum of $2,000 at the Thrift Store at Grace Community Church.

The Friendship Circle was delighted to present a check for that amount to Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney at their regular meeting on Wednesday, to help fund the K9 Unit.

This donation comes on the heels of a very large gift from the Lois L. Johnson Living Trust, who heard the story of the fundraising efforts and donated over $57,000 to the cause.

The spare change collected from North Fork residents who wanted to support the cause was one piece of the larger puzzle, and part of the impetus driving this fundraising project, spearheaded by the Madera County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, and its president Chief Civil Deputy Mike Motz.

“With your check, we’ve now raised between $78,000 and $80,000,” said Varney as he expressed his appreciation, noting that generous donations from groups like The Friendship Circle, and funds raised by J. Carol Realty and Nancy Beavers through an event put on in Oakhurst Park to demonstrate what these dogs can do, are what prompted even larger donations from others such as the Trust, once they saw that the community was behind the project and were lending their support.

Madera Co. Sheriff Jay Varney with K9 pal - photo courtesy Madera Co. Sheriff

Madera Co. Sheriff Jay Varney with K9 pal – photo courtesy Madera Co. Sheriff

Being partnered with a K9 is not only a great privilege, it is a huge responsibility, requiring more time on the part of the deputy, both on the job and off. The S.O. will be interviewing this week for handlers to form two teams, then in the fall they will interview again and assign two more handlers for the remaining two teams. Sheriff Varney says they don’t want all four teams to come on at once because it is a big logistical start-up. He has a couple very good candidates among the ranks of his deputies who have worked on their own time to learn the K9 training.

Varney says the type of training the dogs will have — in addition to patrol and “finding the bad guys” — will likely be influenced by what types of training the dogs in adjacent agencies already have. Mariposa and Fresno P.D. dogs are trained in explosives detection, so Madera County dogs may specialize in drugs, and finding articles and firearms. Those plans have not been finalized, but the Sheriff is considering the bigger picture in his decision-making.

If you would like to contribute to the K9 Unit please go to https://www.gofundme.com/wwsrzdhw



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