The Spirit of Blue Foundation has awarded a K-9 Safety Grant to the Beaverton (OR) Police Department to contribute to the acquisition of a tracking and article search K-9. The new dog will replace veteran K-9 Alex, who retired at the first of the year after serving for eight years with Officer Steve Anderson. The $2,500 grant was sponsored by the Planet Dog Foundation, the charitable arm of dog toy and accessory manufacturer Planet Dog, which has given over $1 million dollars to organizations that bring people and dogs together for fun and mutual support.
"The Beaverton Police K-9 Program sets the standard in this area of the country," said Ryan T. Smith, Executive Director of the Spirit of Blue. "Not only will K-9 Atlas be a great resource for this city, but he will bring an added layer of protection to the officers in Beaverton and will continue a legacy of excellence in this program and others that are influenced by it." Smith served as a Reserve Police Officer with the Beaverton Police Department from 1999 to 2006.
K-9 Atlas is a 24-month-old male German Shepherd, bred in Hungary, who received his initial training at the Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, IN. His K-9 handler will be Officer Matt Barrington, in his first role as a K-9 officer, who has been with the department for eight years. Officer Barrington and K-9 Atlas are currently in a 10-week K-9 Academy program and will begin working the road in Mid-March of 2016. K-9s bring an auditory and olfactory advantage to police work, able to track subjects and identify articles not easily found by their human counterparts. But all K-9s are trained to protect their handlers, making them an effective less-lethal force option while enhancing the safety of officers on duty.
"The Planet Dog Foundation is proud to sponsor the great work of essential canine partners like Atlas," added Stephanie Volo, Chief Retail Officer of Planet Dog Inc. "We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Spirit of Blue Foundation to offer needed grants to deserving agencies such as this."
Statistics released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that 124 law enforcement officers lost their lives in 2015, an increase of 4% from the prior year. 42 of those officers were firearm related fatalities, while 35 were lost as a result of a motor vehicle crash. In addition, the Officer Down Memorial Page reported that 26 K-9 working dogs were lost in 2015 as well. The reality of these statistics, and the increasing number of underfunded law enforcement agencies across the country, fuel the Spirit of Blue safety grant initiative.
The Spirit of Blue Foundation actively encourages the public at large to honor and appreciate law enforcement officers who serve to protect our communities. By supporting the Spirit of Blue Foundation, the public can make an impact in the lives of law enforcement officers every day. To learn more about the Spirit of Blue, or make a donation, visit www.spiritofblue.com.
The Spirit of Blue Foundation, based out of Chicago, IL, is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to the enhancement of officer safety and vitality throughout the law enforcement community by promoting public awareness for their protection and fulfilling safety equipment and training needs. The Spirit of Blue Foundation develops and executes fundraising campaigns nationally with the support of partner non-profits, national retailers, and private equipment manufacturers. Fundraising proceeds are distributed in the form of Safety Equipment Grants to law enforcement agencies across the country from local to federal levels.