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Fundraiser for police dogs Friday

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Area Elks Lodge and Worthington VFW and Auxiliary will host a pork chop feed fundraiser for new K-9 units for Nobles County and the city of Worthington Friday night at the Elks Lodge, 1105 Second Ave.

All profits from the meal, which includes a pork chop, baked potato, corn, applesauce and dinner roll, will be divided between the two K-9 units. Serving is from 5 to 8 p.m., and tickets may be purchased in advance at the Prairie Justice Center, the Elks or VFW, or at the door Friday night.

Nobles County Chief Deputy Chris Heinrichs said the county's K-9, Chase, is approximately nine years old and suffers from various health ailments.

"The county's dog has had some considerable health issues, and it gets hard for them to get in and out of the car," Heinrichs said. "They haven't had a life of leisure lying around the house for nine years."

Chase has had a couple of infections in recent years and is now dealing with arthritis in his joints and hips.

Laika, at nearly 10 years of age, is also starting to have some arthritis issues.

"For a police dog, the wear and tear happens a little faster than regular dogs because of all the trainings and certification the dog has to go through," said Sergeant Brett Wiltrout, Laika's handler. Even riding around in a car for eight hours with the stops, starts and turns is hard on a K-9.

"Their average is right around eight to 10 years," he added.

Fundraising for the two new K-9 units has been ongoing for months. Wiltrout said he talks to service clubs, banks and businesses about donations. When a public event like Friday's pork chop feed happens, it's a bit easier to collect the funds needed to pay for the dogs, their training and a new K-9 vehicle.

Wiltrout said the K-9 SUV the WPD plans to purchase is $25,000 alone. The vehicle will provide the space necessary for the K-9's kennel and the equipment that goes along with transporting him or her.

The WPD has a couple of different options regarding where its new K-9 will come from, but Wiltrout said they have had good success with the St. Paul Police Department. The city hopes to have its new K-9 by next spring.

The county's new K-9 will arrive much sooner. Deputy Dustin Roemeling, Chase's handler, will get the new K-9 in late June.

"They're getting a Belgian Malinois," said Heinrichs, adding that the dog is being trained in Tennessee and will need to be certified in Minnesota once he arrives. The department hopes he will be ready for work by early August.

Both K-9s will be trained in patrol work, including tracking, apprehension and building searches, along with narcotics.

"The reason we have dogs is to find things -- either people or drugs," Wiltrout said. "We've had success with that so far."

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330