MELROSE — Visitors to the sixth annual K-9s in the Grapevines event Saturday night at Melrose Vineyards watched police K-9s chase down “suspects” fleeing from police and then hanging on until police officers gave the command to let go.
The event raised about $10,000 to help pay for a second patrol dog for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and retrofitting the police vehicle where the dog would ride.
The demonstration included a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 dog chasing down a deputy dressed in padded gear in a simulation of apprehending a suspect.
The fundraiser included a dinner and silent auction. About 115 people from the community attended the event.
“Everyone here is like-minded. They respect the police, they respect the dogs and want to help people feel safe,” said Rosemarie Wess, committee chair for the Friends of Umpqua Valley Police K9 Programs.
Some of the police K-9 handlers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg police and Winston police agencies demonstrated different skills from their dogs, including pursuing suspects and searching for illegal drugs.
Sgt. Jon Dorland of the sheriff’s office worked with K-9 Grim for more than five years, and the value of the dog, he said, is immense.
“It was great. A lot of the captures he got would be people running from houses in burglaries or traffic-stop pursuits where they would run,” Dorland said. “A vast majority of the time we would not have caught the people if we did not have a dog. They are an amazing tool for the department.”
Dorland said many times they would go to the door of a house being burglarized and make an announcement that the dog would be let loose if they didn’t surrender.
“The bad guy would say, ‘Nope, I don’t want anything to do with the dog,’ and he would give up,” Dorland said.
The Winston Police Department has had Buster, a 2-year-old Springer Spaniel for just over a year. Buster was purchased by Friends of Umpqua Valley Police K9 Programs.
“He’s a drug detection dog and he’s been working great for not only our agency but all the surrounding agencies,” said Sgt. Ralph Stiffler of the Winston Police Department. “The impact that he’s had has just been huge, not only to our community but to the county in general.”
Roseburg police officers Chris Bonebrake, Blake Cordell and Cameron Derrick, showed off their dogs, Axel, Nike and Trapper. Oscar Rosas from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office brought his patrol dog, Grim, and they performed exercises to explain how the dogs are used in police activities.
Wess said a couple from the community graciously purchased the new dog for the sheriff’s office, which cost more than $12,000. So the mission of the Friends was to replace that amount and help offset the costs of purchasing the dog and equipment.
“We hold these kinds of events to replenish those funds so that we always have funds available for any of the agencies that need the money,” she said.
Friends of Umpqua Valley Police K-9 Programs is a committee of about seven community volunteers formed to provide charitable economic support to local police dog programs.