Barney, Northwood’s crime-fighting police dog who was cut from the city’s
budget last month, will be back on patrol, thanks to the generosity of businesses and anonymous benefactors who donated $7,500 to the city to keep the K-9 on the force.
Barney, whose last day was Dec. 21 due to budgetary cutbacks, is a six-and-a-half-year-old shepherd that was purchased with a homeland security grant six years ago. He accompanies his handler, Patrolman Fred Genzman, everywhere.
Northwood Police Chief Tom Cairl told The Press last week that two individuals who wished to remain anonymous donated $6,000 so that the city could keep Barney after they read an article in The Press last month about his early retirement due to the recession.
“They saw the article in The Press, and it sparked some interest in them to see what they could do for our K-9 program,” said Cairl. “We took that information to the Safety Committee, and they said, `Fine, as long as we use donations.’”
One of the individuals donated $5,000 towards Barney’s expenses, while the other donated $1,000, said Cairl.
Businesses were also generous, he added.
D.R. Ebel Police and Fire Equipment donated $500, Mercy St. Charls Hospital donated $500, the Oregon-Northwood Rotary donated $250, and the Heritage Computer and Business Phone Systems, from Holland, donated $250. The businesses have expressed an interest in continuing to fund Barney in following years if necessary, said Cairl.
“I think it’s great. It’s nice to see an outpouring of support from the community,” said Cairl.
Barney, who lives with Genzman, is certified every two years by the state. The city had paid for his food, veterinary care, Genzman’s canine pager, vehicle maintenance, and training costs.
“It looks like Barney got enough funds to go on for two years,” said Cairl.
Barney, who is half German Shepherd and half Czechoslovakian Shepherd, is trained in several disciplines, including obedience, tracking, article search, building search, area search, explosives and bite work.
“The biggest expense is going to be for the explosive materials, which cost $3,400 for the first year, then $1,700 for the second year,” said Cairl. “We have to send an employee down to Arkansas to pick up the materials and drive them back because it’s outrageous to have them shipped. The materials are good for about three or four years.”
Some of the donors were particularly impressed by Barney’s widespread availability and the fact that he is trained to detect explosives, said Cairl.
“They like the idea that he is used throughout the area – he’s just not for Northwood. He’s bigger than just the City of Northwood,” said Cairl.
“Besides Barney, only the Conrail Railroad has a bomb sniffing dog in our area, when it’s available,” added Cairl.
Barney, whose crime-busting history includes nabbing car thieves, is also used by the U.S. Secret Service, added Cairl.
“We do go out on call-outs. He has worked with, and continues to work with, the Secret Service,” Cairl said of Barney. “They use him quite a bit.”
For example, Barney helped clear locations that were part of the itinerary of presidential and vice presidential candidates last year, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, and Sarah Palin.
Northwood was also contacted by the Toledo Express Airport for access to an explosive detection K-9, said Cairl. “The one they were using from the University of Toledo was retired last fall,” he said.
An ordinance to establish the K-9 unit is on Northwood City Council’s meeting agenda on Jan. 28. If passed, Barney will return to work immediately, said Cairl.
Genzman said he was grateful for the community’s support of Barney.
“I am not sure how to say thank you enough to the organizations, businesses and especially individuals for their donations to keep the K-9 program in place,” said Genzman. “K-9 Barney is ready to come back to work and serve the community, which was thoughtful enough to keep him working. K-9 Barney is a valuable asset to northwest Ohio and we will play our part in keeping him ready for the next call out. It has been a heart-warming experience to see the community support from everyone to keep the K-9 unit in service.”