The Spirit of Blue Foundation announced today that it has awarded a Safety Grant to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) to acquire an explosives detection K9. The new dog will replace veteran K9 Geno when he retires at the end of the year and will be trained in explosive detection, tracking and handler protection. Brian Gregory from Northern Michigan K9 will supply the K9 and will train the dog to work with a selected handler from the KCSO. The $12,500 grant was co-sponsored by the Planet Dog Foundation, the charitable arm of dog toy and accessory manufacturer Planet Dog who has given over $1 million dollars to organizations that bring people and dogs together for fun and mutual support.
8-year old K9 Geno, a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd, has served with the KCSO since 2009. Deputy Bill Gatske, Geno’s handler, has served with the KCSO for 15 years and Geno will continue to live with Gatske and his family in retirement. Over his career, Geno has been involved in the 2009 LPGA Solheim Cup International Tournament held at Rich Harvest Farms near Sugar Grove, IL, performed numerous dignitary and presidential protective sweeps and participated in sweeps before games at Soldier Field in Chicago along with conducting countless explosive detection searches, suspect apprehensions and missing person searches. Geno may be most remembered, though, for his appearances with local area children where he taught the value of policing and reinforced the fact that law enforcement officers exists to serve their community.
“It is always difficult when we approach the end of the career of any of our employees, but whenever we have the opportunity to partner with groups like Spirit of Blue and the Planet Dog Foundation to help offset costs to hire and train new employees, or in this case new four legged employees, it is a win-win situation for all involved,” said Sheriff Patrick B. Perez. “The ability to have K9 teams trained to find explosives are not something the public thinks about, but as a professional law enforcement organization it is an invaluable tool in our response plans.”
“The Planet Dog Foundation is proud to sponsor the great work of essential canine partners like Geno,” added Kristen Smith, Executive Director of the Planet Dog Foundation. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Spirit of Blue Foundation to offer needed grants to deserving agencies such as this.”
2014 statistics preliminarily released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that 88 law enforcement officers have already lost their lives this year, an increase of 17% from the same period in the prior year. Firearm related fatalities have reached 37, a 61% increase. The reality of these statistics, and the increasing number of underfunded law enforcement agencies across the country, fuel the Spirit of Blue safety grant initiative.
The Spirit of Blue Foundation actively encourages the public at large to honor and appreciate law enforcement officers who serve to protect our communities. By supporting the Spirit of Blue Foundation, the public can make an impact in the lives of law enforcement officers every day. To learn more about the Spirit of Blue, or make a donation, visit www.spiritofblue.com.
Ryan T. Smith
Spirit of Blue Foundation
840 West Blackhawk #304
Chicago, IL 60642
Image courtesy Spirit of Blue Foundation