Sheriff to bring back K-9
After going without a K-9 as part of its crime fighting efforts for the past several years, the Steele County Sheriff’s Office wants to bring back the program.
Sheriff Lon Thiele has announced his office is seeking donations of $30,000 to start up a K-9 program similar to one it had in 2014 when the handler, deputy Tony Padilla and his K-9 partner, Cesar, left the county.
Thiele said staffing shortages over the past five years have prevented him from continuing the K-9 program. “Knowing the constraints of a budget and how tight money is a couple years ago it was not a priority,” he said. “Since then, staffing has solidified and the opportunity to bring back the K-9 program has come forward.”
Operating a K-9 program is expensive, Thiele said. He estimated it would take at least $10,000 for start-up costs, including purchasing the dog, sending the handler and dog to training and equipment.
The sheriff said he has found some money to set aside from a recent DWI forfeiture that will assist with getting the K-9 program going again.
Deputy Caleb Buck has been chosen by Thiele to be the next K-9 handler. Of his selection of Buck, Thiele said: “He has not only shown a strong interest with a K-9, but he has done a fantastic job as a patrol deputy.”
As part of his duties, Buck will be appointed to the task of raising the $30,000. Letters soliciting funds have been sent out to various groups and organizations around the county. Just last week, Thiele received one of the first donations—a $250 check from an Owatonna organization.
“With limited resources through government funds, we are doing our best to research various funding options for our agency,” Thiele said.
Thiele wants a “dual purpose” K-9 that will be trained in both detection of narcotics and the search and apprehension of suspects in various environments. The K-9 program will also provide many additional services to the Sheriff ’s Office and communities within Steele County.
“We will converse with other agencies that have experimented with dogs to see what will be best for us,” Thiele said.
For several years, the county has been without a K-9. In addition to the sheriff’s office, Owatonna and Blooming Prairie police departments have had K-9 units in the past. Owatonna just recently started a K-9 again.
Thiele said the State Patrol has been utilized in the rare cases where a K-9 was needed in Steele County.
With Interstate 35 running through the middle of Steele County, Thiele said K-9 is an important tool for law enforcement to utilize. He called I-35 “a pipeline for drug traffic.” He added, “Locating narcotics is valuable to an agency.”
But Thiele warned that having a K-9 does not give everything a magic fix. “The dog has to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “If you have a good handler that should work to the community’s benefit.”
It won’t be until early next year before the K-9 program gets up and running. Once a K-9 is purchased, training will take place for 12 weeks. Thiele said it will likely be spring before the K-9 hits the streets.
Anyone wanted additional information about the K-9 program can contact Deputy Buck at 507-444-3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks may be sent to the Sheriff’s Office, 204 E. Pearl St., Owatonna, MN 55060 with K-9 fund noted in the memo.