POINT PLEASANT — When Gandalf, the Point Pleasant Police Department’s K-9 unit recently retired due to age and health reasons, it left an absence as well as opportunity.
The department is attempting to raise funds to purchase and establish a new K-9 unit, pay for its training, update as well as purchase equipment and other expenses - a price tag which is currently sitting around $10,000.
PPPD Chief Joe Veith said this is an undertaking the department will be doing solely through grant applications and fundraisers. Veith said the department doesn’t wish to put any additional financial strain on the city.
Patrolman Justin Veith would be in charge of the new K-9 unit. Patrolman Veith said the K-9 unit would be, and in the past has been, proven to be a “powerful deterrent and an asset for our department to help enforce narcotics laws in the city and county to help eradicate this (drug) problem.”
At the moment, there are only two other K-9 units in the county which are each assigned to the sheriff’s department and state police. Chief Veith said these other units are always willing to assist the PPPD when a K-9 is needed though sometimes these other units are out of the area or unavailable through circumstances out of their control. If the PPPD had its own K-9, it would be available 24 hours a day and would also provide and return mutual aid to other agencies in the county if needed.
Chief Veith said he’s been in traffic stops where the mere presence of the “drug dog” can expedite the process of a suspect cooperating at the scene. In addition, the K-9 unit will be used for searches, tracking and apprehension which contributes to the overall safety of officers.
Patrolman Veith said the dog would also be available to attend local clubs and meetings for educational presentations showcasing the dog’s skills and what it does for the community - this would be a way to also give back to the community, in addition to performing its duties at the PPPD.
Though the sooner the better when it comes to funding the K-9 unit, Chief Veith said right now there is no deadline for getting the money to fund this project - a project he feels needs to be completely funded before any steps are made to implement it in order to do it right and be completely ready to go, again, without placing any financial burden on the city.
Chief Veith also said he realizes local funds are limited and as such he appreciates any donation from anybody for the project, whether it’s $5, $50 or $500. A special fund set up by the city has been established to deposit all donations which can be dropped off at the city building or mailed to the PPPD, 400 Viand St., PO Box 204, Point Pleasant, W.Va., 25550. Checks should have “K-9 fund” written in the memo.
“It’s a must and we need it,” Mayor Brian Billings said, also elaborating on his confidence in Patrolman Veith to head the new K-9 unit and fund raising efforts.
Patrolman Veith said so far, around $500 has been raised just through word of mouth.
For more information, call the PPPD at 304-675-1104 or message its Facebook page which is managed by Patrolman Veith.