Kids raise money to protect police dogs |

Kids raise money to protect police dogs

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealTeddy looks at his ball, held by Carson City Sheriff's Deputy Dan Ochsenschlager, during a presentation at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada.

Some of those first to respond to Carson City’s most dangerous situations are also the sheriff’s office’s most vulnerable.When officers arrive at a burglary in progress, said Deputy Dan Ochsenschlager, they will usually send a patrol dog in first. The dogs are also used to chase suspects who flee.“We’re always worried when we send a dog in,” said Ochsenschlager. “There are times we send a dog in when we don’t know what the suspect has. They might be met with a shooting or a stabbing.”And members of the Boys & Girls Club don’t like that idea. Through the Torch Club, made up of middle-schoolers, the children are organizing a fundraiser to buy bullet- and stab-proof vests for the dogs.“It is good that we’re helping out so none of the canines die,” said Blasa Rivera, 15. “It would be really sad to have a dog die.”The members are selling hot cocoa at the club to raise money and will be hosting a Hot Cocoa for K9s on Jan. 5 at the Arlington Square Ice Skating Rink. The dogs and deputies will be on hand, and members of the club will be selling hot chocolate. They are hoping to raise $700 for each patrol dog, both Belgian Malinois who work in dual capacities as patrol and drug dogs.Rex and his handler deputy Jeff Pullen showed students the canine’s take-down skills during a demonstration at the club.When given the instruction, Rex charged Deputy Darin Riggin, who was wearing a protective sleeve. However, Rex would respond to the command to stop the attack at any time. “It’s awesome,” said Jared DeSelms, 10. “They’re so well-trained. One command gets them off and on.”Ochsenschlager said that in addition to being valuable members of the force, the dogs — along with drug dogs Teddy and Tommy — are also ambassadors for the sheriff’s office. “We can be scary if we just show up to talk to kids,” he said. “But as soon as one of these dogs goes in there, the kids all rush in. All of our dogs are used in schools. They’re all kid-friendly. They are a great tool and ice-breaker for the kids.”After demonstrations from Rex as well as Teddy and Tommy, children at the club were invited to ask questions of the deputies. One member asked if the deputies get scared. “I’m more afraid for my dog,” said Riggin, Tommy’s handler. “The dogs are always out front. He’s kind of like a kid to us. We care about our dogs and don’t want them to get hurt.”Bridget Gordon, teen director for the Boys & Girls Club, said the fundraiser is part of a nationwide initiative by the national organization to support animal causes. She said it was the teens who came up with the idea to work with the sheriff’s department, and she supported that idea.“It’s an opportunity to build a relationship between the kids and the cops,” she said. And the teens are willing to put in the effort to protect the animals. “I think it would be kind of the same as a person,” said Antonio Tarantino, 14. “If they don’t have a vest, they can get shot and killed. So it’s worth it.”If you goWHAT: Hot Cocoa for K9sWHEN: 2-5 p.m. Jan. 5WHERE: Arlington Square Ice Skating Rink