Washington Twp.'s Police K-9 Program Needs Support
The Gloucester County department will hold a fundraiser Saturday to help with the cost of a new K-9 dog plus the unit's operating expenses, which aren't covered by taxpayers.
The Washington Township Police K-9 Unit lost one of its own earlier this year, and the unit is holding a fundraiser to help replace him.
K-9 Bach died in January after a battle with cancer.
Proceeds from a "K-9 Kountry" social on Saturday at Whitman Square Fire Hall will go toward the cost of acquiring Link, the fifth K-9 dog in the Gloucester County unit. The proceeds will also help defray the unit's operating costs, which aren't covered by taxpayers.
The social will honor the memory of Bach, and recognize his handler, Cpl. Michael Conti.
The unit has four other K-9 dogs: Brix, Aron, Axel and Rex.
"The handlers and partners provide the town excellent service 24/7," said Lt. Pat Gurcsik, the unit's coordinator. "We're self sufficient and operate solely on donations from residents and businesses."
The police department is responsible for raising all the money necessary to buy K-9s and to pay for the dogs' health care, as well as equipment, food, medical insurance and other necessities, Gurcsik said.
The German shepherds cost about $7,000 each, and insurance and health care for all five dogs costs about $8,000 per year, according to Gurcsik.
Although the dogs live with their handlers, the department wants to build a kennel or "run" at police headquarters on McClure Drive for when the officers are inside headquarters, and to provide shelter for the dogs when their handlers are on vacation.
The estimated cost of the prefabricated kennel is $6,000 to $7,000.
"We have to provide a safe environment for them," Gurcsik said of the dogs.
The "K-9 Kountry" social runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Whitman Square Fire Hall, 131 Johnson Road, Washington Township. The event will feature a full buffet, an open bar sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, a mechanical bull sponsored by Front Gate Mortgage, door prizes and giveaways. "Country" attire is encouraged.
Tickets are $30, and can be purchased in advance online, from any township K-9 officer, or from the Pool Store, 288 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell. For more information, email Lt. Pat Gurcsik at email@example.com.
The K-9 unit is also accepting donations, which can be sent to PBA 318 K-9 Fund, 1 McCLure Drive, Sewell, NJ 08080. Checks should be made payable to PBA Local 318, or WTPD K-9 Unit.