West Chester >> The Chester County Sheriff’s Office wants to facilitate the dogged pursuit of that perfect holiday gift with the debut of its K-9 calendar.
Each month features a different dog and biographical information on the handler. Since the K-9 Unit contains 10 teams, a couple of retirees are also spotlighted.
The dogs specialize in explosives, narcotics, accelerants and cadaver detection; the latest addition to the team is a comfort canine used primarily for special victims. Lt. Harry McKinney, who heads the unit, said the K-9 teams each average about a 100 calls a year, and their service includes duties such as clearing a building after a bomb threat, helping to apprehend a fugitive, or locating a lost child.
Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh credits the program’s successful expansion to the efforts of McKinney, a master trainer for the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers, and Chester County Deputy Sheriff Paul Bryant, a Level III trainer for the U.S. Police Canine Association. In addition to increasing the number of teams, the pair initiated an in-house training program to strengthen the skills of the existing teams as well as generate revenue since outside agencies use their services.
Welsh is particularly proud of the fact that the K-9 Unit operates almost exclusively through donated services and funds. Rather than relying on taxpayers’ money, the office holds a couple of major fund-raisers throughout the year to support it. The calendar adds another option for residents who want to express their gratitude to the K-9 Unit for its public service, Welsh said.
“It’s a beautiful and practical way for people to support the K-9s,” Welsh said. “I hope it will prove to be a popular addition to shopping lists. Kids and families can get to know our amazing canines as they see them each month, and it can be enjoyed throughout the year.”
Calendars will be available for sale in the Chester County Sheriff’s Office or through any of the K-9 handlers. The cost is $10 apiece. Anyone interested in ordering large quantities to distribute or sell should contact McKinney at email@example.com or 610-344-4314.