MADERA COUNTY — The Madera County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Madera County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to boost the number of K9 teams available to assist patrol deputies in their work.
“The existence of a patrol K9 Unit at the Madera County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division greatly enhances our agency’s capability to track down, locate and capture wanted offenders in rural and urban environments, and detect illegal narcotics in our communities and schools,” says the Sheriff’s Office. “The employment of K9 assets can greatly reduce safety risks to the citizens and law enforcement officers of Madera County, while increasing our agency’s effectiveness in apprehending criminals and preserving the peace.”
Over the years, the number of K9 dogs in the department has dropped to just one narcotics-trained dog. The effects of the budget crisis and the high cost of dog acquisition have contributed to the problem.
“In the past, there have been up to four dogs at one time,” says Sheriff Varney, who notes that everywhere he has worked, there has been a well-run K9 program that has paid off in officer safety and service to the community.
“If we need a dog to track or help clear a building, we’ve had to request dog teams from other agencies, and we hate for that to be our first strategy,” says Varney. The one dog now on duty with the S.O. is trained only for narcotics detection. “The long-term goal is to have four dogs in total, with two being cross-trained for tracking and apprehension, and either narcotics or explosives.”
A domestic situation involving knives and firearms in Raymond recently required the Madera S.O. to call for assistance from the Mariposa County Sheriff’s K9 Unit.
The Sheriff says having dogs available in dangerous situations not only helps to protect deputies, it goes a long way toward apprehending wanted suspects.
“When you’re dealing with repeat offenders, they are generally less likely to run if they know there is a dog working,” says the Sheriff. “They may think, ‘I only have to outrun a deputy,’ but a dog? Much less likely.”
The GoFundMe campaign appeals to the public to participate in funding the expansion of this important unit.
“The Sheriff’s Office operates a K9 Unit to assist in the effort to combat crime in Madera County. The K9 Unit is a valuable asset to the deputies and other law enforcement officers who are working diligently to protect the citizens of this county. Currently we have a single K9 unit deployed that is narcotics-trained only. The expense of restarting and deploying a successful patrol K9 program is significant.”
Although they have donation commitments of approximately $12,000 from community members, they are still $25,000 away from their total goal of $37,000.
“The Madera County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit needs your support to place a cross-trained patrol K9 Unit in both the mountain and valley patrol areas. In cooperation and partnership with the Madera County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, we are asking businesses, community organizations, and individuals to donate funds to purchase dogs, equipment, provide the necessary training and medical care, and other needs to support and maintain this Unit.
“Your generous donation to this program will go directly to this effort and is tax deductible as well. We truly appreciate any monetary donations to this much needed program.”
There will also be an event at the Oakhurst Community Park on Saturday Mar. 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as a fundraiser for the K9 unit. Other law enforcement agencies will have K9 handler teams at this event to perform demonstrations.