The Greendale Police Department has been working to start a K-9 Unit but is now calling for the community’s support to make it a reality.
The Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals recently announced it would purchase four police dogs, including one for Greendale. MECA is providing the department with a $14,000 Belgian Malinois dog and an $850 protective resistant dog vest. Now the department is working to raise several thousands of dollars to purchases a K-9 car and related police equipment.
Officer Tony Fitzgerald was selected to be the department’s first handler. Part of his duties will include training with the dog and taking the dog home to respond immediately on scene when needed.
The department plans to send Fitzgerald and the dog to training school in North Carolina hopefully this January. In order to do that the department needs to raise the funds for the car by the end of October. Greenfield Police will also be getting a new K-9 with MECA's help. Greendale would like to send Fitzgerald for training at the same time as Greenfield personnel so the neighboring jurisdictions can train together.
How will K-9 serve the community
Usually the Greendale Police Department uses the Milwaukee County Sheriff or neighboring agencies for canine sweeps.
“All these other agencies provide their resources for us that we would like to also be able to help them for their large sweeps,” said Lt. Jeff Zainer who will supervise the K-9 Unit.
With a dual-purpose dog the department can assist patrol in officer protection, building searches, tracking suspects, deter drugs or crime, locate missing persons, drug searches, and K9 education.
The Belgian Malinois dog resembles a pet but is a working dog.
“If you throw a ball to it the dog will keep going till it passes out,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the drive you want in a dog for these. They’re not couch potato pet dogs you want in your house. They are trained to do different kinds of work. It’s not a pet dog. It’s a working dog.”
As mentioned previously the dog will be housed with his handler, Fitzgerald, who will be responsible for the care and training. Both Fitzgerald and the dog will train together and receive certification by a specialized police K9 kennel. The unit will be on call 24/7 to assist in high-risk calls.
“This is something that I have been waiting to have here since I got hired here 12 years ago,” Fitzgerald said.
How can you help
With the help of Attorney Chris Eisold the department was able to establish a 501 (c)(3) tax-deductible donation account.
The department has raised more than half the funds needed but is still long ways to go. Sue Szymczak of Safeway Sling in the Industrial Loop made the first donation. Badger Fence is providing the kennel to be built in Fitzgerald’s home at free of charge.
Baby Preview in the Village Center is also helping the cause by offering discounts in exchange for donations. With a $10 minimum donation to the K-9 fund, customers will receive the Gold Package ($185 value) for a discounted price of $135 during the weekdays. A $25 minimum donation to the K-9 fund, customers will receive the Gold Package for a discounted price of $150 during the weekends.
Greendale Police has a K-9 Fund with BMO Harris Bank Greendale. People can also make checks payable to the Greendale Police Department K-9 Fund. See the attached form.
The department is trying to raise the funds at no cost the Village.
“We are relying on the generosity of the businesses and the residents because it is something that the whole community can benefit,” Zainer said.