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Emily Welker, Published March 27 2014

Moorhead criminal justice students organize fundraiser Friday to get police dog for Clay County Sheriff's Department

DILWORTH – Criminal justice students at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead are teaming up with law enforcement professionals to help the Clay County Sheriff’s Department hire a new colleague whose bark – and bite – are equally formidable.

Today’s benefit at the Dilworth VFW will raise money for the department to buy a new police dog, which the department hasn’t had since August 2012.

The dogs are critical when searching for a missing person or a suspect, and in drug busts, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

Since August 2012, Clay County has relied on Fargo or Moorhead to send over one of their K-9 teams to help in a drug bust or chasing a fleeing suspect, the sheriff said.

“I think it’s the most valuable tool we can have,” said Clay County Deputy Scott Steffes, who has worked with two canine partners, Jake and Indy.

Bergquist said the dog, which the department gets from the Czechoslovakia region, is expected to cost about $8,000.

Then the dog and a deputy will go through a 14-week training course in the Twin Cities, and the deputy’s car will be outfitted with special equipment for the dog.

That brings the initial outlay for the department to about $26,000, Bergquist said.

“It wasn’t something we could run right out and get another of,” he said.

The department lost its last dog after Deputy Ryan Carey was fired in July 2012.

Carey, who took ownership of his German shepherd partner Cuda when he was fired, transferred the dog to a prison in Delaware after Cuda bit his 4-year-old son in September 2012.

An arbitrator ruled last March that Clay County had to rehire Carey with back pay.

Carey said he plans to apply to do K-9 work when the department raises enough money to buy another dog.

“It’s a lot of work. It’s never-ending highs and lows with training the dogs,” said Carey, who added that the moments when he and the dog were involved in busts were among the high points of his career.

The potential for that kind of work was part of what inspired Kristina Hulter to organize the fundraiser.

“K-9 dogs are really – they’re different. They’re not like any ordinary animal. They’re like a human,” she said.

Hulter, president of the Minnesota State Community and Technical College Criminal Justice Association and a student at the technical college in Moorhead, hopes to become a K-9 handler when she graduates and becomes a police officer.

The student life association will match funds donated at today’s fundraiser, which begins at 5:30 p.m. with a pasta dinner and silent auction at the Dilworth VFW, 1505 Center Ave. W., she said.

“It’s phenomenal how the dogs are trained to do things,” she said.

If you go

What: K-9 fundraiser, pasta dinner and silent auction

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Dilworth VFW, 1505 Center Ave. W.

Info: Free-will donations accepted at the door

For more information: Christina_hulter@my.minnesota.edu


Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541