Hurricane K-9 program receives over $10,000 in donations to purchase new dog

HURRICANE — Following the recent retirement of the Hurricane City Police Department’s first K-9 officer, the department received over $10,000 in donations to use toward the purchase, training and care of a new dog for their K-9 program.

From left: Jeff Hunt, president of Because Animals Matter, listens to Chief Lynn Excell talk about the donations. Hurricane Police Officer Jared Carlson stands beside Koa, the department’s new K-9 officer, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 6, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

During a Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday evening, the Because Animals Matter group and St. George Dixie Elks Charitable Foundation were recognized for donating a combined total of $10,030 to the Police Department’s K-9 program.

These donations come just shortly after the retirement of Paige, the department’s first K-9 officer, whose departure was the result of age and some medical concerns, Police Chief Lynn Excell said.

After Paige’s retirement, the department set out to replace her, Excell said, but because of the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the police budget took a hit, and it didn’t look like they were going to be able to get another K-9.

“But these great people stepped forward and made this happen,” he said, referring to the board members of the two organizations.

Jeff Hunt, the president of Because Animals Matter, said they raised $5,030 for the department’s new K-9 officer, something they couldn’t have done without the community.

From left: Kaden Demille, the assistant city manager, stands with Officer Ken Thompson, Sgt. Travis Hall, Officer Justin Gray and Officer Ian Atkinson, who were all recognized for years of service. Mayor John Bramall stands at the far right, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 6, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“This is from the community,” Hunt said. “This is money that came from a lot of various people in the community, so this is fantastic. There was also a thousand dollars from the Rotary Club, so I want to recognize them.”

He said there were also various small businesses that were critical in helping to raise the funds. Donating this money is a way they can express their gratitude to the department and the K-9 program.

“I just want to make sure that everyone knows that BAM is very grateful for the Hurricane City Police force and the K-9 units, and we just want to show our gratitude and think this is awesome that everything worked out.”

Charmain O’Mara, president of the St. George Dixie Elks Charitable Foundation, said the foundation helps out all different types of organizations in Washington County, but this year they have focused their attention to the police departments.

Hurricane City Police Chief Lynn Excell shakes Officer Jared Carlson’s hand, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 6, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“We knew everyone’s budget got hurt, so we reached out far and wide in the area, and when I reached out to Ken (Thompson), he said that they were in need of help with the K-9, so we were able to step up for that other $5,000,” she said. “I’m just really happy we were able to do it.”

Excell said that the K-9 officers have been an incredible resource for them at the department.

“When you look at day-to-day how many times these animals are utilized, not only to protect the officers, protect the public and help us when the need arises, but the amount of narcotics that they take off the streets on a daily basis, it’s just absolutely amazing how hard they work.”

With the donated money, the police department has purchased a new dog, Koa, a 2-year-old Dutch shepherd in attendance at the meeting. “Koa” is a Hawaiian word that means brave, bold and fearless. Her handler will be Officer Jared Carlson.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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