EASTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - The Eastlake Police Department is receiving much community support as they work to bring a K-9 officer back to the department. "Ekko" was their most recent police dog, which retired in 2013 and died in 2017.
Police Chief Larry Reik said the cost of getting a new police dog is around $50,000. Reik said the costs covers dog and handler training as well as a police cruiser outfitted for the safe containment of the dog.
"We have no shortage of complaints. We have no shortage of suspects," Reik said. "We have to provide as many resources as we can to protect the community from the drug scourge that's going on out there."
Reik said at times not having a K-9 officer of their own can hamper investigations.
"If we have a traffic stop and we suspect drugs there, we do have to call another agency right now," Reik said. "You'd be surprised at how many people once the dog car pulls up then disclose where items are at. They understand the inevitable is going to happen."
A police K-9 can also be used to track suspects, search buildings and aid in missing persons cases. Ekko, during his career, performed more than 500 narcotics searches, 100 building searches and 40 area searches. Chief Reik said there's also opportunities for community outreach including school visits and other special appearances.
The Eastlake Economic Community Development Committee is hosting a community dog show on Sunday, February 11. Money raised will go toward helping the department purchase and train its next police dog.
The event is free to attend and is from 1 to 4 p.m. at the EPAL Community Center located at 600 E 349th Street. Dozens of vendors will be on hand including pet adoption agencies, a Chinese auction, and pet photo station.
If you'd like to enter your dog into the competition registration is $10. Prizes will be awarded to biggest dog, smallest dog, best trained dog, best trick and best costume.
To register contact Eastlake City Councilman Michael Zuren at 440-251-5381 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Angela Schmidt with the Eastlake Economic Community Development Committee is also handling registrations. She can be contacted at 440-571-2356.
Chief Reik said he's grateful for the community support already shown to the department. He said they're about half way toward their goal. Eastlake's City Council also plans to contribute financially to make the next police K9 a reality. The chief hopes it's accomplished this year.
There's another chance to support the cause. Zuren said the Lake County Captains baseball team is sponsoring a dog in the park night on April 21. He said the team will be donating a dollar per ticket to help the police if guests mention the word "K9".