LEMOORE — Local golfers and philanthropists hoped to hit a hole-in-one for a K9 Friday afternoon.
More than 100 people scrambled around the Lemoore Golf Course Friday, teeing up while raising money for the Kings County Sherriff’s Department K9 Unit at a Kings County Board of Realtors fundraiser.
“This year, we decided to give back to our county, instead of just Hanford or just Lemoore,” said Jennifer Beliveau with the KCBOR.
The organization raised thousands of dollars throughout the day, which was donated to the Kings County Sheriff’s Department to go toward securing a scent detection specialist K9. In addition to raising the funds through registration fees, the KCBOR held raffles and served lunch to raise funds. For $1, entrants could put a potential dog name in a drawing.
The dogs are used to search jails and prisons for drugs, home-made liquor and even cellphones. They also visit local residential rehabilitation homes to ensure patients are sticking to their goals. The dogs will also assist during traffic stops, search local schools and assist in other functions, as well.
In addition to their excellent hunting noses, the dogs – the department employs a German shorthair pointer and a Brittany spaniel – have an inborn desire to work hard, Senior Deputy Sean-Paul Crain said.
“They’ve got high, high hunt and pretty drives. That’s the drive they have to work,” Crain said, adding that the dogs will work at a high level for about 20 minutes before needing a break.
Both of the dogs, which are about three years old, have been with the department for about two years.
Sgt. Ramon Collier said the department is hoping to add a third dog to the force, something the fundraiser will help ensure.
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The detection dogs, generally bird dogs, are trained strictly to detect and to not engage with suspects. The lighter responsibility list usually means a longer career for the dog, Collier said. Many detection dogs will serve in law enforcement for about a decade.
Over that decade, deputies form quite a bond with their K9 partners, Crain said.
“I see [my K9 partner] as if he’s just a part of my family. He comes in the house; he’s part of the family when he’s at home. He gets along with my kids and my other dogs,” Crain said. The dogs generally live with their partners while not on duty, he said.
The dogs themselves cost nearly $7,000 with another $5,000 needed for training. In addition to those fees, kennels, housing and fitting squad cars with back-seat kennels also need to be taken into consideration. Collier said that each K9 costs about $20,000 in total.
The cost is well worth it when looking at the results, though, Collier said. In the two years since the K9s joined the department, there has been a “dramatic” drop in drugs and contraband found in county jails. Not only do the dogs work to sniff out contraband, but they’re an effective deterrent as well, he said.
“Prior to getting the dogs, inmates are very cavalier about drugs; they can be super cocky and smoke out in the open in a way that’s very disrespectful to the staff. When we got these dogs, it just stopped,” Crain said.
The Kings County Board of Realtors chooses a new organization to donate each year.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/KingsCountyBoardOfRealtors.