Plano Star-courier > News
Group forms fund to support retired police dogs
By Stephanie Flemmons, Staff Writer
After living an active life dedicated to fighting crime and protecting people, retired police dogs demand extra care to ensure a healthy happy latter part of life.
Due to city budget cuts in 2008, Plano police K-9’s are depending on their handlers to spend money out of pocket to pay vet bills and provide necessities to allow them to live a peaceful and content post years.
In an effort to help officers take care of their retired canines, sever Plano police officers and employees formed the Hero Fund, a non-profit organization to assist with the sometimes overwhelming bills associated with owning a retired police canine service animal.
“With city budgets decreasing, officers are given the opportunity to purchase these animals once they retire,” said Rick McDonald, Plano police spokesman. “Once they are purchased, the upkeep is extremely expensive. These dogs are like athletes. They run their whole life and now they are in retirement mode.”
Since the K-9 unit was formed in 1983, the care of these retired dogs was funded by the city as a part of the police budget. McDonald said now that the financial burden is the handler’s responsibility, some are struggling with the upkeep. McDonald said retired police dogs don’t just suffer from the normal ailments associated with aging, but also the serious wear and tear that comes from years of rigorous training and working, including arthritis, hip and knee injuries, torn ligaments and back and spinal problems.”
“The Hero Fund will cover these expenses,” McDonald said. “The Hero Fund will ensure the health and comfort of our service canines in their post service years.”
At the current time, the Plano Police Canine Unit consists of three officer handlers and three canines.
The average cost of purchasing those dogs ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. The cost is dependant on breed, location of kennel from where the dog is purchased, certification that the dog has earned and the availability of the dog when needed. Other costs associated include the handler’s pay and training and the daily expenses necessary for the continued health of the dog.
“We believe that the police canine is one of the most valuable tools today in law enforcement nboth as a deterrent to crime as well as apprehending those who commit crimes,” McDonald said. “We consider each of our police canines a member of our police family. Each of our canines goes home with their handler at the end of their shift and enjoys the comfort of a family environment.”
To make a donation send a check or money order to:
The Hero Fund
Attn: Heather Bowden, Treasurer
3941 Legacy Drive
Suite 204 #A115
Plano, TX 75023