The streets of Sanford, Fla., just got safer thanks to two new four-legged “officers.” The Girard Companies donated two K-9s—a Labrador retriever and a German shepherd—to the Sanford Police Department’s K-9 unit. The donation from the Sanford-based, full-service landscaping company totaled $18,500, which covers the costs to purchase and train both dogs—the sixth and seventh K-9s in the department.
"Girard," a 15-month-old Labrador retriever from Mexico, is being trained in narcotics detection. “L.E.O.” (standing for law enforcement officer), a 15-month-old German shepherd, is being trained as a full-service patrol dog and will be able to detect explosives, conduct building searches, help apprehend criminals, and provide handler protection. Training takes four to six months for the dogs.
As a former K-9 unit officer with the Cocoa Police Department, Leo Girard, executive vice president of The Girard Companies, firmly believes K-9s serve as an integral part of law enforcement.
“With our business based in Sanford and most of our 200 full-time employees living here, we had every reason to help the police department make this a safer place to live, work, and play,” says Girard.
Officer Rebecca Wixson, a seven-year veteran of the Sanford Police Department and the first woman on the Sanford K-9 unit, is assigned to work with “Girard.” “L.E.O.” will be paired with Ted Butler, who has been a police officer in Florida for 11 years, the past four of which were in Sanford.
“The new K-9s will certainly be an as-set to the department,” says Linda Kuhn, Mayor of the City of Sanford, “and we thank The Girard Companies for its generous donation.”
Over the years, the K-9s in the unit have recovered significant amounts of narcotics and stolen money, and have helped apprehend criminals and missing persons. In fact, “Girard” just recently completed his first real drug bust by finding illegal substances in a pedestrian’s shoe.
“Since Sanford’s K-9 unit began in 1987, the dogs have not only helped us on a tactical level, but they enable our officers to have extra protection and we’re able to save the department on man-power,” says Sgt. Ned Golden, head of Sanford’s K-9 unit. “They definitely help to protect and serve our citizens.”