Arson K-9 Ritzey, waits with other deputies as the German shepherd patrol K-9, Sabre, is introduced to the police force at Kent County Sheriff's Office, Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday, December 10, 2014. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com)
Retired Lansing police officer Matt Ramsey talks about when his K-9 was shot and killed by an armed man. The new Kent County Sheriff patrol K-9 Sabre is named in his honor at Kent County Sheriff's Office, Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday, December 10, 2014. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com)
German shepherd patrol K-9, Sabre, is introduced by his handler Deputy Dan Alderink to the police force at the Kent County Sheriff's Office. He is named after a K-9 from the Lansing police department that was shot and killed in the line of duty, Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday, December 10, 2014. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com)
Kent County Sheriff's Department seeks donations for new K9s
By Angie Jackson, posted MLive, on May 05, 2016 at 9:00 AM, updated May 05, 2016 at 6:59 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- The Kent County Sheriff's Department is turning to the public to help expand its K9 unit.
The department has started a crowdfunding effort to collect donations for the purchase of four or five more dogs for its unit that currently consists of three canines.
Lt. Al Roetman said grant money is dwindling and the department's budget can't support the purchase of dogs that come at a price tag of $8,000 to $12,500.
"Our budgets are so tight that that's why we're looking for the public's assistance in trying to grow our K9 program," he said.
The department's three canines work arson investigations, sniff out drugs and work patrol. Authorities ultimately want to purchase three additional patrol dogs so there's one available on each shift, Roetman said. The unit also hopes to start a corrections program, where two dogs would be assigned to the jail to detect drugs, which Roetman said would be the first in West Michigan.
An additional therapy dog would work out of the Children's Assessment Center, providing comfort for young victims of sexual abuse as they're interviewed by investigators.
"That's our ultimate goal. We don't have a time frame on it," Roetman said.
A donor has already paid for one dog while specifying that the canine work out of the jail in the corrections drug program.
Two of the current dogs were purchased with the department's funds and the third, the department's first arson-trained dog, was funded by a State Farm program
"Just to be quite honest, we need the public's help," Roetman said about the purchase of more canines.
He said the additional canines would be an "investment for the protection of everyone," as the dogs often assist area departments. More dogs would cut down on wait times when a canine is needed on the streets.
Donations may be made online via PayPal. Checks made out to the Kent County Traffic Squad and earmarked for the K9 fund may also be sent to 701 Ball Ave. NE ,Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
Angie Jackson covers crime and breaking news for MLive.