Efforts to raise funds for Gladstone K-9 unit continue

GLADSTONE — The movement to implement a K-9 program at Gladstone Public Safety is making huge strides since the idea was first introduced a year ago.

Gladstone Public Safety officer Ryan Peterson, who is spearheading the efforts, presented the possible implementation of a K-9 unit and was approved by the Gladstone City Commission in January of 2018.

Since then, Peterson has raised approximately $27,000. He explained there is still a need of around $33,000 to fully fund the entire life-span of the dog.

Peterson said currently there is enough to purchase the dog, the training and equipment, but not enough for a vehicle. He said the goal is to raise everything needed before getting the dog so the only expenses later on would be possible medical expenses.

“The biggest issue is a vehicle for the dog,” Peterson said. A new vehicle is needed that will be equipped to have a dog inside.

The program is not being funded through taxes. Peterson explained the fundraising efforts are focusing on community support with donations and grants to help make the program a success.

He said grants are limited right now, but once the K-9 program starts more grants become available.

“We are really optimistic that it is coming, that it is going to be started here this year,” he said.

Although he is optimistic and so are others on the program becoming implemented this year, Peterson said if all of the money for the program isn’t raised by March 31, then there is a chance of losing $7,500 out of the $27,000 already raised.

Currently, Gladstone Public Safety is the only law enforcement agency in Delta County that does not have a police dog. Michigan State Police in Gladstone, Escanaba Public Safety and the Delta County Sheriff’s Department all utilize a K-9 officer.

Peterson explained drugs are far more of a problem now making the necessity of a K-9 officer apparent.

Once all the funds are raised and the dog is purchased, the K-9 would be utilized for drug searches/seizures, rescues, and school and public demonstrations within the community.

Until recently Peterson was the only one working to get the program going. He said there is now different community organizations and members actively helping him in finding the funds to implement the K-9 program.

“We’ve had a lot of support but we actually got some people now on board that are being active as far as trying to make contacts and doing certain things,” he said.

Peterson said Sue Gartland of Delta Animal Shelter has been supportive and has helped guide him in different aspects of the fundraising efforts, Rays Feed Mill has donated the dog food for the life of the dog, and the DewDrop in Gladstone is also helping by hosting a meet and greet sometime in the future so the public can ask questions about the program.

Even outside of the U.P. in areas like Green Bay, Wis. there are companies lending a hand to the funding efforts.

Peterson said he has been so appreciative of all the people who have given so far.

“It means a lot — not only to me but to the community. Not even just Gladstone but of all of Delta County,” he said. “It’s been a humbling experience.”

He also mentioned there is a fundraising effort with the help of Blue 6 Laser Engraving going on right now. Engraved pint glasses and tumblers are being sold with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards funding the K-9 program.

Peterson said one of the most difficult issues is people still not knowing there even is fundraising going on for the K-9 program.

He said if people are interested in donating they can stop by at the Gladstone Public Safety Department or visit the fundraising page, which is going to be back up soon and linked on the GPS K-9 Program Facebook page.