Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Clarke and his new K-9 partner, "Forrest."
Forrest needs you
How you can continue to help:
The Clay County Sheriff's Department is seeking donations to maintain a police dog program.
Please make tax deductible donations to the:
Clay County Sheriff's Department K-9 Fund/c.o. Deputy Josh Clarke
Clay County Sheriff's Department
611 E. Jackson St.
Brazil, Ind. 47834
All proceeds collected will support only the K-9 fund.
By IVY HERRON
The Clay County Sheriff's Department has a new K-9 with the help of the public and local businesses.
"Forrest," a Hungarian/Shepherd mix, was able to join the department in time to enroll in the last set of training classes for the year with Deputy Josh Clarke.
The two were able to come home last weekend during a break in training.
"This has been so incredible. We're bonding really well. I couldn't have chosen a better dog. They matched us perfectly," Clarke said. "Forrest knows everything he's been trained to do. I just have to learn his language now."
Schooling continues and Clarke and Forrest will take their first patrol sometime in October, said Sheriff Mike Heaton.
"(Deputy Clarke) has made a huge commitment -- dedicating the time necessary to maintain and train a police dog -- it's a life-long commitment to Forrest. These two will be partners until Forrest retires, probably until he dies," Heaton said.
Implementing a K-9 program is costly at first -- averaging $15,000 -- but can become self-sufficient very quickly in areas where drugs are a problem. A little more than half of the target goal of $20,000 has been collected, allowing the purchase of Forrest. But funds are still being collected to pay for training and outfitting the department's newest officer.
"Once the dog begins to work, the money seized from drug cases and other types of investigations can support the cost of the program," Heaton said. "We didn't want to burden the taxpayers or the county budget to start this program and we don't want to rely upon donations to continue it."
Clarke is anxious for the day when he and Forrest can get to work.
"Forrest is extremely obedient and social, we're becoming really close. We going to be partners, training for a couple of hours a day and then work a full shift together. We're going to be family," Clarke said. "A K-9 officer's tour of service can be as long 8 to 10 years, even longer, it all depends on how well he's taken care of. I want to do what's best for him so he can do his job. If you ask me, I think we have the best dog at the school."